Palliative care is an amazing resource too many patients and healthcare providers overlook due to misunderstanding or not knowing the topic at all. There are 5 facts about palliative care everyone should know to best benefit from its services when or if you ever need them.
Defining Palliative Care
First, we need some clear definitions on some terms.
Patient-Centered Care – Patient-centered care is a type of mind set when it comes to delivering care. At its center is the patient: what they need, what they want, how they live their life, who they are, and much more. In this type of care, healthcare providers like doctors, nurses, advance practice nurses, and others are all members of a team the center of which is the patient. The patient is the MVP of the team; the most important member.
Patient centered care is different from healthcare mind sets of the past, which are typically focused on the physician. In the past mindset, physicians gave orders, called the shots, and made all the decisions. The patient was to sit back and follow the orders with as few questions as possible.
Hospice-I will focus on hospice more in depth in a future post, but for now the important thing to understand is that hospice is like an umbrella that hangs over palliative care. Hospice care uses palliative care as a tool. You do not need to be on hospice to receive palliative care. Hospice does not mean abandoning hope and it is not a program to speed up death. It is a specialty designed to emphasize comfort measures and promoting quality of life.
Palliative Care – Palliative care is a type of care that focuses on helping a patient with a chronic disease or condition live their life to their fullest while coping with symptoms and discomforts of their conditions. Palliative care is care given with or without care intended to cure a condition; that is the patient’s choice.
Palliative Care Facts
- You do not need to be dying, have cancer, or elderly to receive palliative care. Patients with any serious chronic disease or condition that affects quality of life. Examples include: COPD, Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, stroke, kidney failure, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and more. The idea is to anticipate, prevent, and/or manage the symptoms and problems that can develop. Repeat: you do not have to be dying.
- Palliative care is provided by a team of different healthcare providers such as doctors, advance practice nurses, social workers, physical therapists, occupational therapists, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants, and volunteers. Each one provides expertise in each aspect of care. Everyone works together and meets regularly to discuss care.
- The patient is the center of the care. The patient is the most important part of the team. All care plans are unique to the patient and are not designed or implemented without the patient’s input. The patient and their families are actively involved in the regular meetings with the team, which offers its professional opinions and services – all of which the patient is free to decline as they choose.
- You can decide to end palliative care or any treatment at any time.You are not required to continue receiving palliative care. You are not required to continue care focused on curing the problem at any time. You can choose to end either types of care as long as you need them.
- Palliative care will actually give you more control over your healthcare and comfort. With a patient centered approach, palliative care ensures that you needs and preferences are met and assist with communicating this to others. Collaboration and consistency between everyone on the team ensures that you receive the highest quality healthcare.
Palliative Care is choosing a Comfortable Life
Expect more information about hospice and palliative care in the future. They are such important services that are not used enough. I am a certified trainer for Hospice and Palliative Nursing Care through the End of Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) and a member of the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA). If you have any questions or would like anything cleared up comment here or send me a Tweet on Twitter.