What is Palliative Care?
The World Health Organization has defined Palliative Care as “the active total care of patients whose disease is not responsive to curative treatment. Control of pain, of other symptoms, and of psychological, social and spiritual problems is paramount. The goal of palliative care is the achievement of the best possible quality of life for patients and their families.”
Hospice Palliative Care is designed to support any other treatment the patients may receive by helping them live as comfortably as possible. It strives to help patients, caregivers and families manage the challenges they face during hospice care. All aspects of care are provided in a manner that is sensitive to the patient’s personal, cultural and religious values, including his/her beliefs and practices and preparedness to deal with the dying process.
When is Palliative Care Needed?
Palliative Care can help a patient at any stage of a life-limiting illness or condition. Although it is best introduced early in the plan-of-care, it can be received at any time. A patient may need Palliative Care and support if he or she:
- Is suffering from symptoms that are hard to treat such as pain, nausea, fatigue, depression, and anxiety
- Needs help understanding treatment choices
- Wants support when making difficult medical decisions
Palliative care has a number of benefits:
- Vigorous treatment of pain, symptoms such as nausea and fatigue, depression and anxiety throughout the illness
- Keeping patients as comfortable and active as possible so they can pursue meaningful daily activities in the manner they desire
- Emotional support for the patient, caregivers and family when needed
The hospice team develops a plan-of-care that the patient wishes to receive and ensures that the medical team coordinates with each other to provide that care. Team members also counsel patients, caregivers and family members when they are faced with difficult medical decisions or need emotional support.