Palliative care is patient- and family-centered care that optimizes quality of life by anticipating, preventing, and treating suffering through symptom management. It meets the physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of patients with chronic, life-limiting illnesses such as heart failure, pulmonary disease, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer.
How does palliative care differ from hospice? As symptom management, palliative care can be offered throughout the course of treatment, from the time of diagnosis through end-of-life care. Hospice is a type of palliative care provided to patients who choose to discontinue all active and curative treatment.
Why is there a need for palliative care? When patients and families are facing a chronic, life-limiting illness or reach a point when medical care is no longer effective, they need guidance, expertise, and support in making decisions about their plan of care. Some people want to be very involved in determining their course of care. They want to make decisions aligned with their social, cultural, and spiritual beliefs and their physical and psychological condition.
To serve those needs, the palliative care team provides expert pain and symptom management; offers ongoing coordination of care and communication with patients, families, and caregivers; helps the patient and family navigate the health care system; and offers emotional and spiritual support. The team can also help with advance care planning to document health care and end-of-life wishes.
Who provides palliative care? Western CT Health Network has physicians who are board-certified in palliative care, a full-time advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), full-time oncology registered nurses (RN) who are certified in hospice and palliative care, social workers, case managers, and a spiritual care provider.
The palliative care team works closely with your medical team in the hospital and your primary care physician to design the best plan of care for you.
How will palliative care fit into my current treatment plan? After reviewing your medical history and current treatment plan, the palliative care team will meet with you and your family to determine a care plan that will be offered simultaneously with your current medical treatment.