Managing Cancer Pain

Cancer patients should never accept relentless pain as their new normal! All pain can be treated, and even if not totally alleviated, it can be minimized with a comprehensive pain management plan administered by a top-notch caregiving team.

A consistent high level of care is needed for a pain management plan to be effective. Home health and hospice teams provide just that. Home care nurses are trained to recognize tolerance changes that occur as cancer progresses. It can be hard for patients to describe their pain, but It’s important that they convey as much about it as possible. Pain is easier to treat at the onset, and staying in front of it is the key to controlling it.

Patients should participate in their pain management plan by documenting their pain:

  • Where is the pain?

  • Is the pain worse during the day or at night?

  • Rate the severity of the pain, on a scale from 1 to 10 where 10 is the worst.

  • How does the pain feel: sharp, shooting, achy, burning, throbbing?

  • What makes it feel better: ice, heat, exercise?

  • What makes it feel worse: lying, standing, walking?

  • Does the medicine help the pain?

  • How long before you feel any relief after taking the medicine?

Cancer pain can be the result of the cancer itself or of any number of treatments. It can range from dull to sharp, and intermittent to constant. While the severity of cancer pain can vary widely, the frequency of home health visits helps nurses identify unreported symptoms and spot the onset of new site pain before it becomes intense.

A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, and educating patients about their disease and treatment options can be challenging, especially when they are still processing the news. Help your referral partners explain pain management and palliative care services to their new patients. Newly diagnosed patients who are informed about palliative care have an easier time embracing it as their disease progresses.

Always keep cancer care at the top of your marketing strategy but especially during September, National Pain Awareness Month. Highlight the benefits of in-home care for cancer patients with limited mobility, diminished immune systems, and sickness caused by treatments.

Visit TAGwebstore.com for home health and hospice patient education brochures and flyers, as well as referral building tools like our popular Guidelines for Hospice Admission Flip Chart.

Resources: cancer.org, cancernetwork.com

Breast Cancer Awareness

Fall is just about here and It will soon be time to bring out your pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Every October people of all ages and all walks of life will wear pink in support of the brave women and their families fighting breast cancer.

According to the CDC, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women besides skin cancer. The good news is that most women can survive breast cancer if it’s found at an early stage.  While there are a variety of diagnostic tools available to detect breast cancer, mammograms are currently the most common screening method used. Mammograms are recommended every two years for women between the ages of 50 and 74.

Take the opportunity this October to remind your referral sources of the role that Home Health care plays as part of the patient cancer care team.

Home Health care benefits physicians by providing:

  • Updated clinical assessment data.
  • Better case management to reduce calls.
  • Early detection/intervention for better disease management.
  • A streamlined plan of care.
  • In-depth outcome reports

 Home Health care benefits patients, families, and caregivers by:

  • Improving quality of life through greater symptom management.
  • Maximizing patient activity tolerance.
  • Instructing when conditions indicate immediate attention may be needed.
  • Reducing emergency room visits and re-admissions.

 Some ways you can get involved:

  • As Health Care providers be sure to share information on breast cancer through your social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
  • Encourage your cancer patients to share their stories.
  • Partner with your referral network and host a fundraiser.
  • Have your nurses speak at local women’s groups on the importance of getting screened for breast cancer.
  • Wear your Pink!

Visit TAG Web store for your Home Health and Hospice marketing and educational materials.

Ovarian Cancer Awareness

September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month! Gear up now to show your support for these brave women and help raise awareness for finding a cure.

Ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest cancers specific to women. It is estimated that 1 in 75 women will develop it during their lifetime. The symptoms can be subtle and easily mistaken for other illnesses. Talk to your doctor if you are over the age of 50 and have any of the following symptoms for more than 2-3 weeks and they are new or unusual for you:

  • Abdominal bloating or swelling
  • Weight loss
  • Pelvic discomfort
  • Bowel disruption
  • Frequent urination
  • Satisfied with eating small portions of food

There is no viable screening tool to detect for ovarian cancer. Current methods are not sensitive enough to distinguish it from other noncancerous conditions. Women with a family history of breast, colon, or ovarian cancer are at a higher risk of developing the disease and should be vigilant about symptom recognition.  

Make A Difference:

  • Visit the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition to find out how you can get involved.
  • Promote a Wear Your Teal day for your staff and referral network. With action there is hope!
  • Sponsor a run/walk event in your community, and be sure to provide teal ribbons for participants.
  • Supply your referral groups with brochures on cancer and other women’s health issues.

Visit TAG web store for all your Home Health and Hospice resources.

June is Men’s Health Month...

Recognizing Men’s Health Month provides a good opportunity to connect with your referral network. Start by providing the physicians in your service area with brochures on topics relevant to men’s health. Be sure to include information on heart disease which is the number one cause of death for men in the United States.  According to the American Heart Association, 1 in 3 men suffer some form of cardiovascular condition. Thankfully the risk for developing heart disease can be modified with a healthy diet and lifestyle. As young adults, men should know their cholesterol levels, keep physically fit, and have regular check-ups to maintain good cardiovascular health.

Unlike heart disease, cancer can strike the healthiest of men. The top three cancers that occur in men:

Prostate cancer is the number one cancer risk for men aside from skin cancer. Most cases of prostate cancer occur in men over the age of sixty-five. The American Cancer Society recommends that when men reach the age of fifty they should begin the discussion with their doctor about prostate cancer screening. Prostate cancer is very treatable with a 5-year relative survival rate of 99%. Risk factors that may require screening prior to age fifty: having a family history of prostate cancer, being African American, being obese, and being exposed to Agent Orange.

Lung cancer kills more men every year than any other type of cancer. The majority of lung cancers are caused by cigarette smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke. Unfortunately, symptoms of lung cancer don’t typically occur until the disease is at an advanced stage. The prognosis depends on whether or not the cancer has spread beyond the lungs. The five-year relative survival rate on non-spreading cancers is 50%.

Colorectal cancer is another major cancer concern for men. Cancer screening for most men should begin at age 50 and repeated every 5 – 10 years. Men at higher risk like those with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or a family history of colon cancer should be tested sooner. There are several methods of screening, though colonoscopies are frequently prescribed as they enable the doctor to check the entire colon for polyps or cancer. Finding and removing pre-malignant polyps can often prevent colon cancer. The 5-year survival rate for localized stage I colon cancer is about 90%. 

How you can get involved in promoting men’s health:

  • Plan a Wear Blue Day to promote awareness for Men’s Health Month. Hand out T-shirts to your employees, and referral groups. 
  • Organize a flag football or a softball game between your company and referral groups. Invite local media to attend to spread awareness.
  • Sponsor a mini health fair. Provide health screenings and ask local restaurants to supply healthy snacks.
  • Have your nurses give a presentation on Men’s Health and provide handouts on heart health, hypertension, prostate cancer, etc. 
  • Set up an information table on Men’s Health at a local gym, sporting goods or home improvement store. The Saturday before Father’s Day would be a great time to plan this.

Visit our Webstore for Informational Materials on Men’s Health and other Conditions.

May 2015: Look out for your community’s men

June is the perfect time to show a little love to the men in our lives. After all, June is Men’s Health Month and National Men’s Health Week is June 15-21, 2015. And we can’t forget about Father’s Day on June 21. Stand up for the men in your community and remind them that when they improve their health, they improve not only their own lives, but the lives of everyone they care about. Focus efforts this month on educating about health issues that particularly affect men. Consider this: According to the Centers for Disease Control, women are twice as likely as men to visit the doctor for annual exams and preventive services.

  • Take part in community health fairs this month and hand out flyers about topics such as prostate cancer, high blood pressure, medication management and pain management. Find them www.tagwebstore.com/health-care-flyers.php.
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, killing 307,225 men in 2009 – one in every four deaths! Volunteer to teach a free class on heart health at a local Lions Club, Kiwanis Club or VFW.  Find a ready-made class at www.tagwebstore.com/healthmatters-education-series.php.
  • About 67 million American adults (one-third of the population!) have high blood pressure, a condition that contributes to heart attack, stroke and heart failure. Distribute blood pressure logs to the offices of general practitioners and internists to give to their patients with elevated blood pressure. The logs provide a consistent way to get attention for your agency while helping potential patients manage their condition. Find them at www.tagwebstore.com/bloodpressurelog.php.
  • It’s time to think about doing something big. Plan an event to educate your community’s men (and women) about an important Medicare benefit they may not realize they have: The Annual Wellness Visit, which includes a review of medical history and risk factors and a personalized prevention plan. Provide snacks, informative booths and access to a clinician to perform the annual exams. Find a kit to help you plan and execute the event here: www.tagwebstore.com/annual-wellness-visit-kit.php.

Taking steps to ensure safety at home can mean a world of difference to seniors hoping to maintain their independence. June’s National Home Safety Month is a great time to help. Get ready to reach out to your community and educate on home safety and how your agency can help. The National Safety Council-supported observance is an effort to educate people and influence their behaviors in relation to the top causes of preventable death and injury. Here are some things you can do to participate.

  • Host a free educational class at your area senior centers on the importance and basics of fall prevention. Find a ready-made class at www.tagwebstore.com/healthmatters-education-series.php.
  • Show your referral sources this month that you are committed to ensuring patient safety. Integrate patient education guides for fall prevention into your services for those at an elevated risk for a fall. The guides also are an eye-catching tool you can use to show referral sources how seriously you take this issue. Find them at www.tagwebstore.com/patient-education-guides.php.
  • Health and safety go hand in hand. Give patients a powerful tool to track their health records, including medications, immunizations, blood sugar and more. Health Logs will go everywhere they go and will keep your agency top of mind. Distribute them to your both your clients and prospective clients. Find them at www.tagwebstore.com/healthlog.php.
  • Stock physician waiting rooms – especially those of orthopedic specialists – with flyers about home safety. Be sure to include information about your agency’s fall risk assessments. Find the flyers at www.tagwebstore.com/health-care-flyers.php.

Advances in technology and treatment options mean people diagnosed with cancer have better odds of survival than ever. Join the cancer community in celebrating life after a cancer diagnosis this National Cancer Survivors Day on June 7, 2015. Show your support for increased cancer education while also educating people about ways home care can help.

  • Remind physicians that palliative care isn’t just for patients who are terminal. Sit down with physicians and remind them that all patients battling cancer can benefit from palliative care. Leave behind an informative brochure about this specialized care and how your agency can help. Find it HERE. (Bonus: All brochures at www.tagwebstore.com are Buy 1 Get 1 FREE through the May 31!)
  • Home care agencies should provide oncologists with brochures that discuss the benefits of home care for cancer patients. Find them at www.tagwebstore.com/disease-information-brochures.php.
  • Contact the local office of the American Cancer Society and offer to organize a bake sale, sidewalk sale or other charity event to benefit the organization. Be sure to have plenty of informative materials available that educate about cancer. Find personalized agency flyers about cancer at www.tagwebstore.com/health-care-flyers.php.
  • Give cancer patients a comprehensive guide to assist them as they cope with treatment. Find a patient education guide for cancer with chemotherapy/radiation at www.tagwebstore.com/patient-education-guides.php.