Home Health & Hospice

Q: What are some tips I can share with my staff about caring for chemotherapy patients?

Homecare Insider, October 14, 2013

                 

Q: Treating patients who are receiving chemotherapy or radiation treatment can be challenging. What are some tips I can share with my staff about caring for these patients?

A: To begin, remind staff of the side effects that can accompany chemotherapy and radiation treatment. These side effects may include weakness, fatigue, appetite and weight loss, nausea and vomiting, anemia, and diarrhea.

To assist and treat patients suffering from these side effects, have staff consider the following:

  • Provide frequent, small meals and fluids.
  • Administer medications prescribed for specific symptoms.
  • Keep intake, output and elimination records to identify problems early on.
  • Appropriate oral care and dietary changes for dry or burning mouth.
  • Keeping a keen watch for signs of infection (e.g., fever).
  • Reassure residents hair should grow back after eight weeks.
  • Check skin for signs of bleeding.
  • Provide relaxation techniques (e.g., warm milk, noise reduction) to diminish sleep problems.
  • Ensure frequent observation and communication with residents.
  • Determine level of pain/discomfort experienced.

Along with these suggestions, finding ways for homecare staff to offering support is critical for patients, given the stress of cancer and its treatment.