What is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is the combination of active and compassionate therapies intended to comfort and support individuals and families who are living with a life-threatening illness.
The goal is to improve the quality of life of the patient and caregiver by managing symptoms, enhancing knowledge, facilitating caregiver participation, and coordinating physical, psychosocial and spiritual support services.
Palliative care takes into account the unique needs of patients and offers recommendations for managing symptoms, which can include pain, fatigue, constipation, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, restlessness, incontinence, confusion, lack of appetite, dry mouth, and skin problems among others.
In addition to drug therapies, non-pharmacological solutions are suggested that may help comfort patients and relieve stress. They can include Reiki, massage, music and pet therapy.
Palliative care is provided either in a patient's home or as a consultation service for residents of long-term care facilities.
Palliative home care may be right for you if you:
- Have any life-threatening illness;
- Are in active palliative treatment (chemotherapy, radiation therapy, transfusions, etc.) or,
- Are in declining health or,
- Visit the ED frequently or are hospitalized frequently.
Benefits of palliative home care:
- Care at home from a team with expertise in life-threatening illnesses
- Expert symptom management and pain control
- Support, referral and resource coordination
- Help with advanced-care planning
- Specialized interdisciplinary services (RN, MSW, CNA, rehabilitation services)
Palliative care and long-term care facilities
Palliative care consultations are provided in long-term care facilities by registered nurse practitioners experienced in pain and symptom management.
When should I call for a consult?
- If a resident is experiencing any type of pain or symptoms that are not easily controlled or do not consistently respond to prescribed interventions.
- If a resident has had severe pain for more than 24 hours.
- If a resident has demonstrated a change in behavior or a decline in functional status and the etiology is unknown.
A nurse practitioner will assess a patient, including the physical, emotional, and spiritual, and will make recommendations for care to the staff who will contact the primary care physician to discuss the recommendations and obtain the orders.