Palliative Care

What is Palliative Care?

  • Palliative Care is a specialized system of treatment which aids in managing the pain, symptoms and/or stress of chronic or acute illness.
  • Palliative Care includes comprehensive care and management of physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual needs with the goal of improving the quality of life for patients of all ages and their families.
  • There is a major emphasis on pain and symptom management, advanced care planning and the patient’s quality of life.
  • Palliative Care is managed by an interdisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, and social workers to fill in gaps or provide additional support to the medical and psychosocial needs of the patient.
  • Palliative care works with integrated patient care in harmony with what the patient wants and what their primary doctor and/ or specialist believes the treatment plan should be.
  • Palliative Care can be administered at any time of illness and in any setting (home, assisted living, nursing facility).
  • Additional services may be requested of/ arranged for/ coordinated by the Palliative Care Program in collaboration with referral sources, insurance providers, and health care practitioners as necessary.
    • Examples: Home-Health services, DME (durable medical equipment)
  • Palliative care services may include, but are not limited to:
    • Physician (MD), Physician Assistant (PA), Registered Nurse (RN), Nurse Practitioner (NP), Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)
    • Physical/Occupational/Speech Therapy (PT/OT/ST)
    • Medical social worker (MSW)

Volunteers/Bereavement Services/ Spiritual or Religious Support and Counseling

Referral Criteria

Examples of criteria for admission under the Palliative Care Program include but are not limited to:

  • Presence of a serious (acute or chronic) life limiting illness
  • New or recent diagnosis of life-limiting illness
  • Referral for symptom control and/or patient/ family support
  • Declining ability to complete activities of daily living
  • Two or more hospitalizations for the same illness within three months
  • Difficult to control physical or emotional symptoms
  • Patient, family or physician uncertainty regarding prognosis and treatment options
  • Limited social support in managing a serious illness

Goals of Palliative Care

  • Optimize pain and symptom control
  • Optimize functional status
  • Promote the highest quality of life for patient and family
  • Educate patients and family regarding disease processes and expected course of the illness
  • Coordinate/facilitate timely access to the appropriate care and establish a comforting and healing environment
  • Assist and provide guidance in advanced care planning
  • Identify care and services that will benefit and support the patient and families

Benefits of Palliative Care

  • Higher quality of life through symptom and pain management
  • Assistance in planning for care and other major medical decisions
  • Lower healthcare costs through fewer and shorter hospital stays
  • Support system for patients and their healthcare providers
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