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Are you preparing to provide a palliative or hospice experience from home, but don’t know what to expect? It can certainly feel overwhelming and there is a range of medical equipment that might be introduced when you or someone in your care decides to stay home for end of life care. To help you plan and get familiar with these tools and support items, here are common types of medical equipment you might expect.

Oxygen tanks

Breathlessness in advanced disease is common, and you will likely be provided an oxygen tank for at home oxygen therapy in a palliative or hospice scenario.  Oxygen therapy comes with its own benefits, and risks. Earth’s atmosphere is comprised of just over 20% oxygen, but it’s 100% oxygen in the tank for a patient at home. Aside from side effects like skin irritation and nasal dryness, and the risk of oxygen toxicity, tanks in your home are also a hazard because they are extremely flammable. There should be absolutely no smoking near an oxygen tanks, and tanks should never be placed close to a heat source.

Commodes

A portable toilet to enhance comfort, commodes are helpful for patients with limited activity who cannot reach the bathroom. Often designed with wheels so that they are easy to push around and move, most have features with adjustable armrests, and a removable receptacle for waste. For patients who cannot get out of bed, bed pans are a helpful substitute.

Transfer Tub Bench

When mobility is compromised, getting in and out of the tub can be not just difficult, but dangerous. Bath transfer benches, or transfer tub benches, help with the transition out of the tub and work well even for patients who are wheelchair bound.

Nebulizers

Nebulizers are available in both mechanical and electrical formats, but function the same to deliver medication through inhalation. Daily or prolonged use of a nebulizer can increase the risk for Thrush, a painful yeast infection in the mouth that comes with white patches on the mouths inner cheeks and palate.

Intravenous Equipment

Standard IV kits include prefilled sterile plastic bags, long sterile tubes with clamps to regulate or stop the flow of medication, infusion pumps and hypodermic needles.

With direction from a nurse, administering long term IV treatments can be safe.

Providing palliative or hospice care in the home is almost universally preferred to staying in-hospital. With some advanced planning, you won’t be caught off guard by the changes to your living space. Make sure to discuss with your palliative or hospice nurse any questions or concerns you may have, especially regarding the operation of any equipment.

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