How do I know if palliative care is right for me?
It may be right for you if you suffer from pain, stress and other symptoms
due to a serious illness. Serious illnesses include but are not limited
to: cancer, cardiac disease, respiratory disease, kidney failure, Alzheimer's,
AIDS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and multiple sclerosis. Palliative
care can be used at any stage of illness, not just advanced stages.
Who else, besides the patient, can benefit from palliative care?
Everyone involved! Patients as well as family caregivers are the special
focus of palliative care. Your doctors and nurses benefit, too, because
they know they are meeting their patients' needs by providing care that
reduces suffering and improves quality of life.
Does my insurance pay for palliative care?
Most insurance plans cover all or part of the palliative care treatment
you receive in the hospital, as with other hospital and medical services.
This is also true of Medicare and Medical. Drugs and medical supplies
and equipment may also be covered. If costs concern you, a social worker
or financial consultant from the palliative care team can help you with
Where do people get palliative care?
Palliative care can be offered in a number of places. These include hospitals,
long-term care facilities and at home.
Can I get palliative care if I am at home?
Yes. After symptoms and pain have been managed and are under control, you
and your doctor can discuss outpatient palliative care.
What does palliative care involve?
* Pain and symptom control: Your palliative care team will identify your
sources of pain and discomfort. These may include problems with breathing,
fatigue, depression, insomnia, or bowel or bladder. Then the team will
provide treatments that can offer relief. These might include medication,
along with guided imagery or relaxation techniques.
* Communication and coordination: Palliative care teams are extremely good
communicators. They put great emphasis on communication between you, your
family and your doctors in order to ensure that your needs are fully met.
These include establishing goals for your care, aid in decision-making
and seamless coordination of care.
* Emotional support: Palliative care focuses on the entire person, not
just his or her illness. The team members caring for you will address
any social, psychological, emotional or spiritual needs you may have.
* Family/caregiver support: Caregivers bear a great deal of stress too,
so the palliative care team supports them as well. This focused attention
helps ease some of the strain and can help you with your decision-making.
What can I expect from palliative care?
You can expect to have more control over your care and a comfortable and
supportive atmosphere that reduces anxiety and stress. Your specialized
plan of care is reviewed regularly by the CARES team and discussed with
you to make sure your needs and wishes are being met and that your treatments
align with your goals.
You can expect relief from symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath,
fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping.
Palliative care addresses the whole person. It helps you carry on with
your daily life. It improves your ability to go through medical treatments.
And it helps you better understand your condition and your choices for
medical care. In short, you can expect the best possible quality of life.
Does treatment meant to cure me stop when palliative care begins?
No. You can get palliative care at any stage of illness, no matter what
your diagnosis or prognosis.
Who provides palliative care?
Usually a team of experts, including palliative care doctors, nurses and
social workers, provides this type of care. Chaplains, massage therapists,
pharmacists, nutritionists, and others might also be part of the team.
Generally, each hospital has its own type of team.
What role does my doctor play?
The hallmark of palliative care is a team approach to patient care. Your
primary doctor will continue to direct your care and play an active part
in your treatment. The palliative care team provides support to and works
in partnership with your primary doctor.
What is hospice care?
Hospice care is for a patient who has a terminal diagnosis and is usually
no longer seeking curative treatment. It focuses on relieving symptoms
and supporting patients who are expected to live for months, not years.
Hospice care is provided in the home, in a residential setting or an alternate
Is palliative care the same as hospice care?
No. Hospice care provides care and support for those approaching the last
stages of life.
How does Hoag handle advance health care directives? Do you honor them?
Yes. Hoag honors the advance health care directives of our patients, and
hospital staff and practitioners who provide care in the hospital must
follow the health care decisions of a patient’s agent or surrogate.
However, Hoag providers may decline to comply with an individual health
care instruction or decision for reasons of conscience, or because the
care would be medically ineffective or contrary to generally accepted
health care standards. If this causes a disagreement with an agent or
surrogate that cannot be resolved, the hospital staff and practitioners
will make every reasonable effort to find another health care provider
to take over your treatment. Advance health care directive forms can be
downloaded by clicking here. If you have specific questions about your
care, we encourage you to speak directly to your physician.