By Hospice of Marion County
The word “palliative” is defined as comforting, soothing, calming and reassuring. It should not be confused with quick fixes offered in so-called “pain clinic” settings. Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious conditions. Its focus is to provide relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress that entails—whatever the cause or diagnosis.
This specialized comfort care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses and other specialists, who work together with a patient’s primary doctor and/or specialist to provide an extra layer of support. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and can be offered along with curative treatment.
How can palliative care help with a cancer diagnosis?
Because patients are carefully regulated by their physicians with consultations from experts at Marion County’s Center for Comprehensive Palliative Care, people can rest assured that their pain and symptoms can be managed (most within 24-48 hours) and their conditions monitored on an ongoing basis. The palliative care team can be called to:
• Aid in pain and symptom management
• Assist with relief of suffering – physical, emotional or psychosocial
• Discuss the course of disease and goals of care
• Assist attending physician, patient or family with clarification of development of palliative plan of care
• Help establish the best possible quality of care as determined by patient and family
• Offer emotional support to patient and family, including anticipatory grief and bereavement counseling
• Review and complete documentation of advance directives
• Explain pros and cons of forgoing specific treatment and/or diagnostic treatments
• Facilitate transition to alternate care settings, such as home, nursing home or hospice when appropriate
Who can receive palliative care?
Patients with chronic, long-term or life-limiting illnesses are appropriate for palliative care. It is available to help with pain management, relief of suffering and education on their disease progression and prognosis.
Palliative care addresses the patient’s medical, emotional and spiritual needs. It offers support to patients and their caregivers. Open discussion between patients, families and health care professionals is encouraged in determining the patient’s goals and medical plan of care. As a patient’s disease progresses, the palliative care team adjusts its support services as those needs change. Palliative care makes a better quality of life possible for patients and their loved ones by providing the best possible plan of care.
Who can refer a patient to palliative care?
Physicians can refer a patient by calling the Palliative Care office at (352) 291-5881; the office is open 8:00 a.m. -5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday. If the patient is in a hospital, nursing home or assisted living facility, physicians may write an order in the facility for a consult.
How does someone get palliative care and how is it paid?
As a holistic approach to care, palliative medicine is about a person’s whole being, including family and loved ones. Well-informed consumers should know the facts. They can request palliative treatment if the outcome from surgery, accident or disease has left them in physical or mental distress. Palliative care improves healthcare quality in three significant ways. It:
1. effectively relieves physical symptoms and emotional suffering,
2. strengthens patient-family-physician communication and decision-making, and
3. ensures well-coordinated care across healthcare settings.
It is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurances. A consult is available through one’s own physician or by calling for information about receiving services.
Learn how the Center for Comprehensive Palliative Care can help: (352) 291-5881 or visit www.marionpalliativecare.com.