Why palliative care?
When you or a family member is living with a serious illness, prevention and relief of suffering from symptoms such as nausea and pain are critical to maintaining quality of life. Additionally, attention to the emotional, spiritual and psychosocial (family) issues that accompany a serious illness is not only necessary for quality of life, but can also help medical treatments be more effective.
In short, palliative care is for patients and families dealing with a serious illness. The objective of palliative care is to help them feel better, be more supported and have more control over choices regarding their care. The goal of palliative care is to prevent or relieve suffering and provide the best possible quality of life for people facing the symptoms and stress of serious illness – whatever the diagnosis.
How does palliative care work?
Palliative care is provided by a team of healthcare specialists; physicians, nurses, social workers and chaplains, who work with your primary care provider to provide extra support for you and your family when facing challenging and life-changing illness.
Palliative care is not the same as hospice. Hospice care provides palliative care for patients who are facing death. The focus of hospice care is on relieving symptoms and supporting patients and their family as they approach the last stages of life.
Palliative care is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a complex illness, and can be provided together with curative treatment, such as chemotherapy.
Who can make a referral?
Referrals to palliative care can be made by a number of different individuals. Typically, your primary care physician requests a consultation by the palliative care team. Nurses and other professionals may also encourage the physician to consider a palliative care consultation. In addition, you and your family members can request your physician to order a palliative care consultation.
Benefits of Palliative Care
Help patients and families understand treatment options and make decisions based on individual preferences and goals
- Assistance in interpreting the potential benefits and burdens of care, such as tests, surgeries or medications
- Help patients and families determine when or if to begin or discontinue treatments
- Expert management of nausea, anxiety, shortness of breath, constipation, diarrhea, pain and other symptoms that may accompany serious illness or are side effects of treatment
- Focus on the prevention and relief of suffering, including spiritual, emotional and psychosocial (family) support through the course of illness
- Facilitate communication among patient, family and healthcare members
- Promote the best quality of life as defined by the patient and family
For more information on Palliative Care Services, call Agnesian HealthCare’s Home-Delivered Services at (920) 923-7950.