Sure, this may sound like it could be yet another commercial for a vague medical product or procedure, but palliative care can actually be a favorable option for patients who want a different kind of care. It also could be another alternative for providers who are interested in the well-being of their patients vs. “just fixing them.”
The team at Accredited Home Care has worked with clients receiving traditional care and palliative care, and is happy to discuss many of the options and pros and cons of both, especially since palliative care is a relatively new term that not everyone is familiar with.
Generally speaking, palliative care is a philosophy that focuses on quality of life of a patient, rather than continuous testing, observation and experimentation to figure out a cure, no matter how painful or risky. It is sometimes suggested when someone has a serious illness that can include a wide variety of tests and methods, such as chemotherapy or radiation for cancer.
Quality of life also can go beyond feeling better physically or mentally – it can include emotional and spiritual well-being as well.
Having information about the different care methods can make it easier for clients to choose an option, and for friends, family and other loved ones to be involved. Even if someone may not be ready for palliative care, they often may like knowing the information for future reference.
November is also a good time to begin to do research and learn more: it’s National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, when care programs around the country are encouraged to educate people about both of these options.
The fall observance was started by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, but it is also supported by similar private and public programs around the country which are also eager to raise awareness about options and improve quality of life for patients and those around them.
Home health care personnel also will be happy to focus on some of these options with their clients, including providing services like massage therapy, which can be soothing to muscles and reduces stress whether someone has an illness, injury or is receiving hospice care.
Or, they can help with tasks such as light housework, shopping or meal preparation. These services aren’t directly connected to medical care but can make clients happy who may not be able to take care of these anymore.
Making this decision for palliative care can involve discussions between providers, such as a primary and any specialists, plus family members, caregivers, home health personnel and the client as well. Some hospitals are even beginning to hire physicians, nurses or other medical positions who have received additional training in working with patients in this time. They can provide a palliative team which is able to interact with other medical personnel, caregivers, family members, and other professionals to make sure that patients receive consistent coverage.
Along with people with medical specialties, a palliative care team may also include or provide access to financial specialists or social workers.
When should it be considered
Because everyone responds differently to illnesses and efforts to improve these health conditions, as well as different pain thresholds, it’s difficult to come up with a ‘one size fits all’ approach to when everyone should switch to palliative care or remain with traditional care.
Although many people can be involved in the care process, making a decision can be fairly simple.
Some providers suggest requesting palliative care early in the treatment process for a serious disease, rather than later or after other attempts have failed. This can determine a course of action for the entire treatment. For instance, someone beginning cancer treatment can say “I want more emphasis on pain relief while we try to beat this” vs. “I want this cured whatever the cost/pain/methods.”
WebMD also affirms that the earlier palliative care is begun, the better the peace of mind can be, whatever the outcome. There are plenty of reasons why this approach is suggested:
- It adds an extra layer of security and focus on the individual patient rather than the disease
- It provides a degree of control for a client, who may feel helpless about their current situation. But being able to direct some degree of their care plan can be empowering and positive.
- It provides a focus that goes beyond pathology and helps clients think of a bigger picture.
- It gets more people involved in the process.
Overall, Accredited Home Care can provide a variety of services for clients receiving palliative care.