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Palliative Care

Palliative care is specialized area of healthcare for people at any stage of serious illness. It focuses on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a significantly compromising medical condition. The goal is to improve quality of life for the patient, his or her family and caregivers through coordinated comfort care and support for both activities of daily living and medical decision-making throughout the course of treatments.

Palliative care helps those with major illness to carry on with daily life and it improves ability to tolerate and follow medical treatments. It gives patients more control by improving their understanding of and ability to adhere to daily care and treatment options.

With the increasing recognition of palliative care, physicians have recently been able to gain certification in palliative medicine.  This adds to the focused special attention that palliative care teams can offer.

Palliative care is not synonymous with end-of-life pain care.  While hospice (one form of palliative care) provides comfort for those with a short prognosis for remaining life span, palliative care is beneficial for patients at any stage of serious illness –– including those receiving curative or life-prolonging treatments.  This form of care helps a broad range of patients who need comfort and support for serious, chronic or life-threatening illnesses that include cancer, congestive heart failure, kidney failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, dementia, AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and more.

About Hospice

Hospice is specialized care for patients during an advanced illness. The goal is to provide compassionate support for individuals with a life-span/survival-limiting illness or injury. While, hospice is usually associated with in-home care, these services can be provided to terminally ill persons wherever they live, including nursing or long-term care facilities. They are also offered in special hospice centers.

Hospice services can include running errands, preparing light meals, staying with a patient to give family members a break and lending emotional support and companionship to patients and family members. Hospice care may be delivered any time of day or night and is on-call, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Most hospices have nurses available to respond to a call for help within minutes, if necessary.

Improving the Patient Experience and Healthcare Utilization

Palliative care can provide relief from:

  • pain
  • fatigue
  • nausea
  • loss of appetite
  • constipation
  • anxiety
  • shortness of breath
  • and sleep difficulties.

By improving patient monitoring and continuity of care, palliative care can also reduce hospital readmissions and emergency department visits, enhance a variety of types of support for family members and lower costs.  A palliative program such as that available through Lourdes can engage patients and families earlier with a supportive care model and offer proactive intervention for patient-centered end-of-life care planning.

Partners in Supportive Services

Lourdes partners with Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice to offer palliative care services through Palliative Medical Partners, a physician medical practice providing a high level of support to help patients and families achieve the best quality of life.  Samaritan now offers outpatient palliative care as well as inpatient palliative care, though a range of options from consultations and counseling to home-care services.

The team’s board-certified physicians and advanced practice nurses help to evaluate and manage patients as needed to increase comfort level, tolerate treatments and handle daily needs.  In addition, Samaritan’s palliative specialists devote time to listen and answer patients’ questions about their disease and treatment options, and help coordinate the patient’s/family’s goals of care with his/her entire healthcare team –– in some cases in collaboration with the Social Work Services at Lourdes.  These care providers also work with other local organizations involved in palliative and hospice care to coordinate available resources for patient and family.

For more information about a palliative care consultation at Lourdes, contact 855-PALL-MED (725-5633).

Resource: GetPalliativeCare.org

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