What is palliative care?
Palliative care is a form of medical attention that can be considered specialized particularly for patients with serious illnesses. This form of medical care and attention primarily concentrates on giving patients that relief from the stress and symptoms brought about by the patients’ illnesses.
In addressing the abovementioned issues of emotional and mental stress and the physical symptoms of an illness, palliative care ultimately tries to improve the overall quality of life not only of the patients but also of their families and loved ones.
Palliative care is usually provided by doctors and other allied health professionals and partners who are specially trained in palliative care and usually accomplished in coordination or in partnership with the patient’s doctors or health partners. This extra layer of palliative support and care is especially important in all stages of a serious illness and appropriately given alongside other treatments and curative procedures.
How Can Palliative Care Help Patients and Their Families?
As mentioned earlier, palliative care can help patients and their families improve their overall quality of life while undergoing curative procedures for a serious illness. This special support can help alleviate the physical symptoms and emotional stress of having a serious illness such as congestive heart failure (CHF), Alzheimer’s, cancer, Parkinson’s, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and other serious illnesses that may cause the patient significant distress.
Palliative care can address a number of other issues of patients with serious illnesses. These include depression, fatigue, pain, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, nausea, constipation, sleeplessness, and anxiety. A patient’s palliative support team will ensure that patients and their families can go on living their lives as usual and with the best quality of life the palliative care can offer.
Close Communication During Palliative Care: A must for improved quality of life
During the course of treatment for a patient undergoing palliative care, the patient’s palliative care team will initiate a conversation with the patient himself/ herself and the patient’s family and will be willing to listen to any issues the patient or patient’s family may have. The patient’s palliative care team will also present the patient with all of his or her available treatment options, making sure that the patient and the patient’s family understand the whole process of the treatment. This will make the patient and his/ her loved ones feel more in control of their situation and the course of treatment. With this new found feeling of being in control, the patient can then experience better mental wellness and emotional well being knowing full well that he/ she is somehow in control of the situation, thereby enhancing the patient’s quality of life.
Better Patient Treatment: Collaboration Between the Patient, the Patient’s Family, and the Palliative Care Team
A patient’s Palliative Care Team will collaborate and coordinate with the patient’s family, his or her doctors and the patient’s family to provide a holistic approach and concerted effort towards better patient treatment. In addition to addressing a patient’s emotional distress and physical symptoms, a palliative care team will also make sure that the actions of the patient’s doctors and other health professionals are synchronized and properly coordinated. This can give the patient his or her much needed extra layer of care during this sensitive period of his or her life.
What Can Patients Expect From Palliative Care?
As stated earlier, palliative care can have a lot of benefits for patients. Listed below are some of the other benefits of Palliative care:
- Palliative care can alleviate the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. Palliative care is meant to offer relief of symptoms and emotional distress to patients who are suffering from a serious illness.
- Palliative care can greatly streamline a medical team’s efforts for the patients. A palliative care team will do most of the coordination for the patient and the patient’s family in terms of medical treatment. This will reduce the stress and emotional uncertainty being felt by the patient and his or her family during this sensitive period of having a serious illness.
- Palliative care can help improve a patient’s quality of life. Palliative care, with its combination of addressing the physical symptoms and emotional distress of patients, can greatly help patients and their families achieve an improved quality of life in terms of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
- Palliative care will work with the Patient’s doctor or existing healthcare professional or partner. A patient does not have to give up his or her doctor or healthcare professional to avail of the services of a palliative care team. The palliative care team should ideally work seamlessly with the patient’s doctors and healthcare partners in helping the patient an improved quality of life.
- Palliative care is ideally accomplished with the curative aspect of medical treatment. Palliative care should ideally be done alongside the curative aspect of a patient’s medical treatment. For example, a patient may get curative treatment for cancer such as chemotherapy and cancer medication and he or she can also get palliative care with the said treatment through a massage and counseling from his or her palliative care team.
- Palliative care can benefit everyone involved. Palliative care can benefit not only the patient but also his or her family and loved ones and even the patient’s doctors and health care partners. The patient will receive the appropriate medical treatment together with emotional and spiritual support from his or her palliative care team. On the other hand, the patient’s family can also experience some form of emotional support from the patient’s palliative care team through their coordination and collaboration with the various health professionals working on the patient’s treatment. Lastly, the patient’s healthcare professionals will also be benefitted with some sort of peace of mind, knowing that they can provide the patient with not just treatment, but also an extra layer of palliative support.
- Palliative care services can be procured through insurance or through other financial arrangements. Palliative care need not be expensive as patient insurance may cover all or part of the palliative care treatment. If this option is not available to the patient, then he or she may coordinate with his or her palliative care team financial advisor on what payment options are acceptable.