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Palliative Care

Palliative care is a type of specialized medical care for people who have serious illnesses or conditions that are not curable and are clinically deteriorating.  The goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of life for patients by addressing their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Palliative care is not limited to end-of-life care, and can be provided at any stage of a serious illness.   It is not just for people who are going to die soon.  
Often when patients have been returning to the hospital many times in a year for the same condition, it is a signal that Palliative care or Hospice Care will be needed.

A team of healthcare professionals who work together to provide personalized care that is focused on the patient's goals and values.  Often the team will include a doctor trained in palliative care, nurses, social workers, chaplains, psychologists, child life specialists 
Some common examples of palliative care interventions include pain management, symptom relief, emotional support, and assistance with practical needs such as transportation and financial planning.

Common goals of palliative care

  1. Pain and symptom management: One of the primary goals of palliative care is to alleviate pain and other physical symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. Palliative care teams work closely with patients to identify their symptoms and develop a plan to manage them effectively.

  2. Improve quality of life: Palliative care aims to improve the quality of life for patients and their families by addressing physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. The goal is to help patients maintain their dignity and independence and to provide them with comfort and support.

  3. Support for family and caregivers: Palliative care also focuses on providing support for family members and caregivers who are also impacted by the illness. The goal is to help them cope with the emotional and practical challenges of caring for a loved one.

  4. Advance care planning: Palliative care teams work with patients to discuss their goals and preferences for care, including end-of-life decisions.  This can include the Code Status - Full code, Do Not Intubate, Do Not Resuscitate (or Allow Natural Death).  Also, establishing the Medical Power of Attorney.  Perhaps even thinking of updating or drafting a will. 

  5. Coordination of care: Palliative care teams work closely with other healthcare providers to ensure that patients receive coordinated and comprehensive care. This includes managing medications, coordinating appointments, and ensuring that patients receive the appropriate treatments and interventions.

  6. Spiritual and emotional support: Palliative care teams also provide emotional and spiritual support to patients and their families. This includes addressing issues such as anxiety, depression, and existential concerns.

Hospice is a part of palliative care. Palliative care does not mean that any treatment will be withheld, unless it is specifically addressed and documented.

Further reading 

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO)

National Association for Home Care & Hospice


Online Services - Estate Planning, Wills, Power of Attorney 




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