In our industry and workplace, grief is something you need to be comfortable with. Whether it’s our Care Coordinators gently supporting a client through that initial heart wrenching phone call; or one of our experienced Vet’s comforting a family through a difficult, but necessary decision. We see grief every day. We acknowledge it, we respect it, and we support our clients suffering through it and the pets at the center of it.
The reason we walk hand in hand with grief is because our focus at Sunset Vets is specifically end-of-life veterinary care. As you can imagine, this means a great deal of our appointments are for euthanasia and it’s something we don’t take lightly. We endeavor to work with families where euthanasia is a planned and considered decision and in the best interest of the pet involved. In the interest of this, we deliver this service at home, in the most compassionate way possible to support owner and patient equally. Through years of experience, we have found that pets are most comfortable in their own environment which often results in a calm, peaceful goodbye. This in turn, helps owners and family members with their grief. Managing grief is extremely important to us and for those needing a little extra support, we also offer a free counselling service as well as being available for you whenever you need it.
Palliative care is a newly emerging field in the veterinary industry and one which is often misunderstood. Quite often, palliative care is assumed to delay the inevitable and potentially cause unnecessary suffering to our furry companions. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. We are passionate about educating people on the importance of palliative care and the wonderful benefits it can offer to both patient and family.
What is palliative care?
Palliative care is a specialised area of veterinary medicine and is not a replacement of regular veterinary care, but rather an extension to it. A palliative care appointment is similar to a regular doctors appointment but with a different focus. Instead of focusing on curative outcomes of care, we are aiming to deliver comfort care.
This means that our core priority is to ensure that pain is identified and managed and quality of life is maintained. Additionally, palliative care helps you prepare for the end stages of care and supports you as an owner through the difficulties of end-of-life decision making. We have found this to be paramount to clients in the management of their grief.
What does a palliative care appointment look like?
The average palliative care appointment will include:
- Extended in-home veterinary consultation (approximately 1hr in length depending on the pet and family needs);
- Review of previous medical history and current medications;
- Detailed discussion about your concerns and goals of treatment;
- Full veterinary examination and physical health check;
- Review of the home environment and current care routines;
- Formulation of a management plan including instruction on diet, exercise, hygiene, mobility, etc;
- Referral to other health professionals we feel may further help you if required;
- Support and advice for what to do as your pet’s condition changes;
- Recognition of pain how best to respond;
- Discussion about quality of life concerns and preparation for end of life, and
- Access to our counselling and support services as required.
What is the benefit of palliative care?
At Sunset Vets we have found that approximately one in five pets had not visited a veterinary clinic within a year of the end of their life. Our palliative care service helps close this gap. Along with postponing pre-emptive euthanasia, the service maintains the patient’s quality of life and comfort.
In addition to this, one of the biggest benefits to our palliative care service is the ability to manage grief and expectations. The open communication style we encourage means you (the client), are involved in care options and the trajectory of the patient is spoken about openly. This often means grief surrounding the unexpected is removed. By understanding what is happening and why, we have found that palliative care allows families to appreciate and celebrate the time they have left with their pet. This acceptance means the final goodbye is planned and peaceful; and as always, supported by the Sunset Vets team.
For more information on palliative care CLICK HERE.