Interdisciplinary palliative care for people with advanced Parkinson’s disease: a view from the home

Jori E. Fleisher, Ellen C. Klostermann, Serena P. Hess, Jeanette Lee, Erica Myrick, Joshua Chodosh


Background: Advanced Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a multidimensional neurodegenerative condition with motor and non-motor symptoms contributing to increasing disability and decreasing quality of life. As the disease progresses, patients may become homebound and estranged from neurological care, with dire consequences. We describe the increasing epidemiologic burden of and individual risks faced by patients with palliative-stage PD and their caregivers.
Methods: With the aim of mitigating these risks, we designed and iterated two models of interdisciplinary home visits to maintain continuity of care and illuminate the unmet needs and barriers to care faced by this population. We describe both models in detail, with data on feasibility and patient-centered outcomes achieved in the initial model, and baseline characteristics of participants in the ongoing expanded model. Finally, we illustrate the scope and common themes of such palliative care-informed home visits with two cases.
Results: The pilot model involved over 380 visits with 109 individual patients. Among those patients, PD severity worsened by nearly 12 points annually on the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS), without a corresponding decline in quality of life. In an ongoing study of the second iteration of the model, 52 patient-caregiver dyads have completed their initial visit, with 44% bearing a diagnosis of dementia and the majority requiring an assistive device or being bedbound. Two cases highlight the critical importance of thorough medication reconciliation and home safety assessment in the comprehensive evaluation and management of such patients.
Conclusions: As our population ages, therapies increase, and the number of individuals living with advanced PD and related disorders grows, so too does the imperative to recognize and address the palliative care needs of such patients and families. For many, home may be a viable, and perhaps optimal, site for this care.