What is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is an approach to caring for patients with advanced or serious illness, centered around promoting quality of life. Its goal is to address distressing symptoms while providing compassionate care for patients and their loved ones.
Palliative care is offered at Heywood Hospital as both an inpatient consultative service and as “supportive care” in the outpatient oncology/hematology clinic. Palliative care is delivered by a team of health care professionals. This team is led by a nurse practitioner and may consist of the attending medical providers, nurses, social workers, case managers, pharmacists and nutrition staff.
How do you know if you need Palliative Care?
Many patients with serious medical illnesses experience distressing physical and emotional symptoms. The palliative care team understands these symptoms, how they can affect your quality of life, and how the stress impacts you and your loved ones. Our team can help you cope with this difficult experience, manage your symptoms, and assist in establishing the next step in your plan.
Palliative Care can help with:
- Managing difficult to control symptoms, including pain, nausea, shortness of breath, depression
- Discussing prognosis
- Helping establish an overall plan of care
- Information about community resources
- Providing emotional support
- Establishing goals of care
- Coordinating patient-family-care team meetings
- Advance care planning, including identifying a health care proxy and documenting wishes for the future
How is Palliative Care different from Hospice?
Often, the term “palliative care” is confused with hospice care. Palliative care is an all-inclusive term for care devoted to improving comfort and helping patients live their best possible life. Palliative care is available to ANY patient with serious illness at ANY time, including patients we expect to make a complete recovery. In contrast, hospice is a specialized type of palliative care for patients whose life expectancy is six months of less.
Possible benefits to patients in Palliative Care:
- Reduced anxiety, depression and pain
- Increased confidence in navigating care
- Increased satisfaction with care received
- Decreased hospital admissions, readmissions and emergency room visits
How do you receive Palliative Care at Heywood Hospital?
If you are a hospitalized patient, and you or your loved one would like to see the palliative care team, speak with your nurse. Patients are also identified as appropriate for palliative care during team meetings.
If you are a patient of the oncology or hematology clinic, speak with physician or the staff about arranging an appointment. Once a request for consultation is placed, a nurse practitioner will perform a comprehensive assessment and collaborate with the multidisciplinary team to provide the patient the best possible care.
(To download 'Know Your Choices' in various languages, click here.)