What is Palliative Care? (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv)
Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It is focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stresses of a complex illness—whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.
Palliative care strives to provide the highest quality holistic care that is patient centered and family focused targeting quality of life issues. Comfort care and symptom management is provided by an integrated multidisciplinary team with the goal of relieving suffering whether physical, spiritual or psychosocial.
How is Palliative Care different from other medical services?
Palliative care is provided by a team: doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains and other specialists who work together to provide an extra layer of support. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment. It is different than Hospice care in that it may start at diagnosis and patients may receive active treatment for their disease.
Who is eligible for Palliative Care?
Palliative Care consults are provided to any patient on Kaua`i and may be covered under health insurance plans. Patients generally have a life-threatening medical condition and are likely to need assistance with symptom management. The patients usually have a complicated medical problem and are suffering from numerous symptoms that need additional management and coordination.
Many patients with HMSA insurance are eligible to participate in a 90 day pilot program for SUPPORTIVE CARE (which is the same as Palliative Care).
Who provides the care if the patient is home bound?
The caregiver – who may be a member of the family, a friend, or a neighbor – is ultimately responsible for the care of the patient. If family members are unable to care for the patient, they may choose to hire attendant care to assist with the care of the patient. Palliative Care staff may assist the patient and family with finding attendant care if the care of the patient becomes overly difficult. There may also be available community resources available to assist with such care. Individuals without specifically identified caregivers or support will be evaluated for the most appropriate level of care necessary for delivery of Compassionate Care services.
How is Palliative Care provided?
Your primary physician continues to be involved with your care in addition to the Palliative Medicine Partners including a physician, nurse, and social worker. The physicians are jointly responsible for coordinating and managing your care. Supportive care is emphasized by the Palliative Medicine Partners, while more aggressive therapy may be provided by your primary physician. The Palliative Medicine Partners are there to make sure that any symptoms, problems or stresses are addressed as quickly as possible, so that the entire medical process can be as comfortable for the patient.
- The Palliative Care physician visits the patient initially in the office or at home (depending on patient need) and then as medically appropriate. This physician, along with your primary physician, is responsible for the overall medical management of care and monitors the patient’s overall care on a regular basis.
- The Palliative Care nurse works with the patient and family to monitor and supervise the patient’s condition and to teach caregivers how to care for the patient.
- The Palliative Care social worker supports the patient and caregiver by listening to and discussing difficult feelings, and by assisting with practical matters such as giving resource lists of available community resources.
When is Care provided?
Office and home visits are scheduled during weekday hours. In addition, 24-hour after hours telephone support is provided.
Medication, Equipment, and Supplies
These items are provided based on the patient’s regular Health Plan benefit.
What if a difficult situation arises?
The caregiver may face very difficult situations. We will provide a 24-hour number to call. This number will put the caregiver in touch with a Palliative Care nurse who will assist over the phone, or arrange for a home visit or inpatient care or as necessary.
When will care be provided in an inpatient setting?
If inpatient care is necessary, your primary physician along with the Palliative Medicine Partners will help determine the most appropriate inpatient setting based on your needs.
When is the best time to choose Palliative Care? Choosing Palliative Care is a very personal decision. After talking with the primary care physician, the patient should discuss the decision with his or her family and get their support whenever possible. We would recommend that palliative care be initiated as early in the disease process as possible.
For further information, call 245-7277 and request to speak with a Palliative Care doctor or nurse.
PLEASE NOTE: Presently, Palliative Medicine Partners is a program operated through support of Kaua`i Hospice, Inc.