Insightsthe blog of Porter Hills
Living Well with Serious Illness: Palliative Care
Jessica Mays, RN
Porter Hills Home Care
& Sara Lowe
What is Palliative Care?
Most of us know a friend or family member that have a chronic disease or serious health complication. As we age and live longer we are more prone to have significant heart problems, lung disease, or cancer. With these health complications often comes distressing symptoms. Being diagnosed with a chronic condition may also cause emotional and spiritual distress as it causes us to confront our own mortality. However, these health complications do not mean your life is over. For many people there are options to control and treat symptoms that will allow them to live life to its fullest. This is what is known as Palliative Care.
Why Palliative Care?
The triple aim of health care is to improve population health, control cost and improve the overall healthcare experience. Palliative Care is one of the best tools to help achieve this goal. Modern medicine has evolved into a complicated relationship between health care providers and the people they are treating. Palliative Care can help close that divide, by engaging a patient in their care, goals and outcomes. Some studies have shown, people treated with palliative care experience less pain, less depression, have lower costs, and lower rates of unnecessary re-hospitalization.
The concept is really very simple. The essence of Palliative Care is to ensure there is an active conversation between the Palliative Care team and the people they are treating to ensure that the goals of care are person centered.
It is important to note that Palliative Care can be given alongside curative measures. For example, when one is being treated for cancer and expected to recover they can receive Palliative Care treatment to help alleviate some of the symptoms that occur with cancer or the treatment. It is often said that Palliative Care can be given at any age or any stage of an illness. It is important to mention the difference between Palliative Care and hospice. ALL hospice is Palliative care but NOT all Palliative Care is hospice.
What does a Palliative Care program look like?
There are many types of Palliative Care programs out there.
- Physician – the physician directs the care with input from the person being cared for and the interdisciplinary team
- Community Health Team – an interdisciplinary team sees the patient in their home or in a clinic and typically makes recommendations with input from the person receiving care, overseen by a physician or mid-level practitioner
- Hospital – interdisciplinary team provides consults in the hospital setting
- Outpatient Clinic – interdisciplinary team meets with people in a clinic setting to work together to come up with plan of care
- Holistic and Spiritual – many Palliative Care programs are broadening their approach to ensure all the needs of the person are being treated.
One may not get to pick our tribulations in life, but with the support of a good Palliative Care Team, our health status doesn’t have to take over our life!