About Palliative Care...
HOW CAN PALLIATIVE CARE HELP ME?
Palliative care (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) is specialized medical care that focuses on relief of the symptoms and stress of serious illness. The goal is to prevent and ease suffering and to improve quality of life for patients and their families. Palliative care is appropriate at any age and any stage of an illness. And, it can be provided at the same time as curative treatment. This specialized care is aimed at relieving suffering and helping individuals and their families understand all possible treatment options, with special emphasis on managing the pain or symptoms that may accompany serious illness. Palliative care helps the patient and family express their wishes and goals for the course of the disease. Once the goals and wishes are determined, the team provides support and guidance in reaching the goals.
The role of the palliative care team is to facilitate communication and understanding among the patient, family and providers of care, with the hope that the person and family will experience the highest possible satisfaction with the care they receive.
Symptom management, which is a primary goal of palliative care, focuses on relieving pain, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, constipation, fatigue, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping that many times go along with disease or treatments to cure the disease. It has been shown that when these distressing symptoms are managed it’s more likely that the course of treatment will be completed.
Palliative care may be provided at any stage of the illness and at the same time as curative treatments.
WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM PALLIATIVE CARE ?
A wide variety of patients can benefit from palliative care:
- Those diagnosed with a complex, serious illness who desires relief from pain or symptoms associated with the disease
- Those who need to make difficult decisions about how to proceed with care and treatment
- Those who need assistance with communication issues related to care and treatment can all benefit
Likely diagnoses might include:
- Cancer Heart disease Kidney failure
- Respiratory disease Alzheimer’s disease
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Multiple sclerosis
- Other diseases
WHO PROVIDES PALLIATIVE CARE?
Typically, palliative care is provided by a team of professionals that may include
Physicians and/or advance nurse practitioners Chaplains
Registered nurses Social Workers Pharmacists
The professionals that make up the team depend on the needs of the patient and their family.
WHERE IS PALLIATIVE CARE PROVIDED?
Palliative care may be provided in a variety of healthcare settings
Hospitals Nursing Homes Hospices
Assisted Living Facilities Out-patient Clinics Homes
For some individuals, it may be switching from one setting to another that contributes to confusion and poor communication. With palliative care in place, there is increased likelihood of enhanced communication resulting in the development of the most effective treatment plan.
HOW IS PALLIATIVE CARE PAID FOR?
That is a good question to ask when speaking to the palliative care team on your first visit.
Palliative Care may be handled much like a referral to a cardiologist or other specialist and covered by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance. This varies from community to community and may be covered by grants or offered on a sliding fee schedule.
HOW DO I KNOW IF PALLIATIVE CARE IS RIGHT FOR ME?
Palliative care may be right for you if you suffer from pain or other symptoms due to a serious illness. Palliative care can be provided at any stage of illness and along with treatment meant to cure you.
HOW DO I GET PALLIATIVE CARE?
Ask for it! Most of the time, you have to ask your doctor for a referral.
HOW DOES PALLIATIVE CARE WORK WITH MY OWN DOCTOR?
The palliative care team works with your own doctor to provide more support for you and your family. The team provides expert symptom management, extra time for communication and help navigating the health system.
Palliative Care of Northwest Kansas is supported by The Dane G. Hansen Foundation. We extend our heartfelt appreciation to The Dane G. Hansen Foundation for supporting this project.