What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is not hospice care.

Palliative care can be provided during all phases of a serious or chronic illness helping patients feel better – improving the quality of their lives, even in conjunction with curative therapies.  In contrast, hospice care utilizes the principles of palliative medicine to treat patients once curative measures are no longer effective or have ceased.

Patients with chronic and/or life-limiting health conditions often require many healthcare resources in order to manage their health condition effectively.  For many of these individuals, palliative care may help manage short-term medical needs for which timely and effective symptom management may improve long-term health.

Understanding a patient’s healthcare choices related to managing their chronic or life-limiting condition can be an emotionally difficult process for both the patient and the family. Palliative care and programs like Care Connection can help patients and families understand their healthcare options better, lessening the stresses of dealing and coping with chronic illnesses.

Palliative care consultations help improve the quality of life for patients receiving curative treatment at any stage of a serious illness. Palliative care can improve a patient’s ability to tolerate medical treatments, gain strength to carry on with daily life, and help patients understand their care choices better.

The palliative care teams includes a physician or nurse practitioner and a medical social worker, if needed. The team works together to design a customized care plan that meets each patient’s individual needs.

Palliative care consultations are appropriate when:

  • A sudden catastrophic illness or new diagnosis of advanced disease occurs.
  • A patient requires frequent and/or prolonged hospitalization or ICU stay.
  • A chronically-ill patient′s functionality is declining.
  • A dialysis patient is experiencing medical crisis.
  • A chronically-ill patient is suffering pain or other difficult symptoms.
  • A patient is suffering uncontrolled spiritual or psychosocial distress.
  • There is a need for assistance with complex decision making, such as advance directives.

Medicare Part B, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans may cover palliative care services. (Standard co-pays may apply.) The services are provided in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, assisted and independent living communities, and even the patient’s home.

For more information, read more about our Care Connection program.

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