Individuals dealing with serious illness can easily and quickly become overwhelmed. They may experience significant symptoms and anxiety brought on by their situation. Often, they find themselves thrust into an unfamiliar world that requires frequent travel to specialists and labs, deciphering new medical jargon and making difficult decisions about treatment options.
Palliative care—an interdisciplinary medical caregiving approach focused on optimizing the quality of life by coordinating support among people with serious, complex illness—has been shown to play a big role in improving a patient’s quality of life. Research has found that early use of palliative care services can improve the quality of life for patients with serious illness, as well as decrease depression and anxiety and increase patient and family satisfaction. In some cases, palliative care has even been credited with extending survival.
Palliative care is an approach to care that can be accessed at any stage of an advanced illness for patients of any age.
Chandler Hall’s physician-led, specially trained palliative care team includes a specially trained team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work collaboratively with the patient, their family and the patient’s physician to customize a plan to fit the patient’s life and needs. The team helps navigate the complexities involved with serious illness and to promote patient quality of care.
At an initial meeting patients discuss their needs, wishes and goals for care. Based on that conversation, the patient and the team determine a plan to manage and improve the patient’s daily life. By understanding those goals and wishes, both the patient and the team will be able to better develop a personalized treatment and care plan that gives the patient control and helps them live well, according to the patient’s definition. They will also continually communicate with you to revise the plan as needed.
The palliative care team will also provide information to help assist patients and their families when making difficult medical decisions. Patients with serious illness frequently have many complicated and overwhelming decisions to make. They may also wonder if they are receiving the best and most appropriate treatment. Palliative doctors and team members can explain the options and guide patients in making the best decisions by providing the big picture. They can and will also help patients weigh the benefits and potential burdens of possible side effects to help them make the decision that feels most comfortable.
Serious illness can cause many different types of concerns. There may be physical pain but dealing with serious illness can cause emotional and spiritual questions, too. Patients may be frustrated if they can no longer do things they once were able to do, or feel lonely, overwhelmed by financial concerns or worried about their family’s future. Palliative team members can also play an important role to provide emotional support. Rather than lecture patients or tell them what to do or how to feel, they listen to a patient’s fears and concerns, empathize and help you understand the options.
Collaboration is paramount in delivering palliative care. Every member of the team is committed to ensuring that patients and their loved ones receive the best care possible in the face of a serious illness. The team works closely with the patient’s primary care physician, specialists and any other team members involved in the treatment to ensure that the patient’s care plan is integrated into any other care the patient is receiving.
Palliative care is covered through Medicare Part B and Medicaid, as well as some private insurers, although some treatments and medications may not be covered and there may be a co-pay depending on your plan.
Chandler Hall’s JCAHO Community Based Palliative Care has been a provider with more than 30 years of experience providing patient- and-family centric palliative care service that is aligned with St. Mary’s Medical Center, the area ACO (Accountable Care Organization), Health Quality Alliance, and St. Mary Home Care.
Our experienced and compassionate staff can help you make the best choice for you or your loved one.