What is Palliative Care?

According to the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, palliative care is an interdisciplinary model of care focused at preventing and treating debilitating effects of serious and chronic illnesses such as cancer, cardiac disease, respiratory disease, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s, AIDS, ALS, and MS. Palliative care can be provided at the time of diagnosis and involves pain relief and other symptoms. It is patient-family centered and it focuses on patient centered goals to maximize the patient’s quality of life. Palliative care can be offered to patients in conjunction with life-prolonging and curative therapies for individuals with serious, complex, and terminal illnesses.

Palliative Care improves the health of patients through patient-family focused care during curative, acute, and chronic diseases. It focuses on the physical, psychosocial, emotional, and spiritual health of the patient. 

Palliative care encompasses the entire team of the patient (interdisciplinary team) to care for the patient as a whole. The palliative care nurse practitioner will often work as a facilitator between all the specialties to assist the patient with their goals. In palliative care the patient's goals are always the focus of the treatment plan. 

Palliative Care Defined

  • Palliative care is survivorship

  • Palliative care is the whole system of care

  • Palliative care is family centered

  • Palliative care does not mean stopping the treatment you are currently on

  • Palliative care is appropriate at any stage of a serious or life changing illness. 

Palliative care is a journey that is misunderstood in society. It does not mean death or hospice. Palliative care means empowerment through the goals of the patient through all stages of a disease. 

Roles of a Palliative team:

1. Consulting role- make recommendations to patient's specialty providers.

2. Co-managing- see patients on a limited basis to manage specific issues.

3. Primary care- ongoing management or longitudinal care involvement. 

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