Palliative CareAccording to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Palliative is defined as:  medical: something that reduces the effects or symptoms of a medical condition without curing it

Palliative care is too often called later rather than sooner. It is not necessarily Hospice care, it may involve Hospice later, but it is a separate approach which is best used earlier on in an illness or disease.

Hospice programs are geared to providing services to the entire family as a loved one’s condition will not improve. They do indeed “make a bad (sad) situation seem better”. People can receive Palliative/Hospice care for a long time. Care is given either in the home setting, hospital or Long Term Care setting which gives some beds/rooms over to the Hospice.

Palliative care improves the quality of life of a very ill person and certainly improves their process of dying. It is much more than symptom/pain management, though that is a large part of the attention given. It isn’t only for Cancer patients, but for all people managing a serious conditon which cannot be cured and will ultimately be fatal, Palliative care has shown to be effective with heart failure, COPD, cirrhosis among other diseases.

Some doctors believe in a Palliative Care approach, some don’t fully understand what it does and some physicians just don’t believe in it at all. Be aware of your or your loved one’s doctor’s attitude toward Hospice/Palliative Care is. He or she can either be helpful or a hindrance once these ends of treatment for a specific illness are being considered. A physician must give the order, it can be any of your doctors’s or even a Hospice doctor.

Palliative Care provides a team approach – doctor, nurse, nutritionist, therapists, New Age or Eastern approaches – music, oils, massage, meditation etc., counselors, aides,  to help the “patient’ and family members. Doctors often do not have the time to address family needs and concerns, nor have they been taught or mastered the skills needed specifically to discuss end of life issues, advance directives or to key in on patient centered goals. They are all about the medical, the treatment. If this is no longer productive, many doctors aren’t trained in how to proceed.

An easier way to understand Palliative care is that it treats the person rather than the disease.  Even when there aren’t any treatment options, each day can be made as positive as possible.  This approach addresses the symptoms, and ways to bring relief from pain or other symptoms. It is a huge psychological boost to have a team of people caring for you and focusing on how you can feel better or manage a very difficult time.  The patent is not alone, or abandoned because the disease cannot be treated, the person, and family still can be treated… with respect, dignity and compassion.

Both Palliative and Hospice teams will provide assistance but you or your loved one may need more help than is allotted to you through the program. At Paradise Home Health Care we often share a patient with Hospice by supplementing the hours they give, until they provide the total number of hours or round the clock care needed. We become part of the team for awhile.