For many patients living with chronic illness, palliative care provides invaluable medical and social support. But palliative care is often the health care world’s best kept secret – many confuse it with hospice and may end up forgoing a service that can help greatly relieve the mental and physical effects of a serious disease.
The Center to Advance Palliative Care defines palliative care as “specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness. This type of care is focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of the illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.” While receiving palliative care services, patients can continue to receive curative treatment for their disease and services are in no way connected to the patient’s prognosis.
The sooner palliative care services are employed, the better patient outcomes and satisfaction tend to be. If you or a loved one have been recently diagnosed with an illness that impacts the quality of everyday life, you can discuss palliative care services with your doctor. These signs may also indicate you or your loved one may benefit from palliative care:
To start palliative care, the patient’s physician needs to create an order for the service. At Abramson Senior Care’s Lila H. Levin Palliative Care Program, families may contact us directly and we will work with their physician to obtain the necessary paperwork to begin care.
Once the order is received, an initial consult with a nurse practitioner will take place and from there a care plan will be developed. Care plans are centered around the needs and goals of both patients and caregivers, so all plans are highly-personalized. Care plan objectives are reviewed routinely with patients and caregivers and will be updated with appropriate services as needed.
Palliative care provides a team of nurse practitioners, social workers, and chaplaincy staff so that patients and caregivers receive well-rounded holistic care. The team provides a number of services including:
Palliative care’s focus is on helping patients live as normal a life as possible, this includes making sure that patients can still partake in favorite activities and hobbies. The palliative care team can help find ways to adapt as needed so that patients can still find fulfillment from the things they enjoy.
All patients living with a disease that affects their everyday quality of life, and their family members and caregivers can benefit from palliative care services. Palliative care can make a difference in the following diagnoses, but is in no way limited to:
Living with a serious illness can have a major impact on everyday functioning. Oftentimes medical care is focused on treating the disease, leaving many patients and caregivers to deal with the side effects on their own. Palliative care fills an important gap in care and can greatly improve overall quality of life.
If you think palliative care services are right for you or have more questions about when to start palliative care, please call Abramson Senior Care’s Lila H. Levin Palliative Care Program at 215.371.3550. Someone is available to talk 24 hours a day, seven days a week.