What is palliative care?
Palliative care is specialized care focused on meeting the needs of individuals with chronic illness. Palliative care strives to provide patients with relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of a chronic illness, regardless of their diagnosis. The goal is to improve the quality of life for both the patient and their family as they face the challenges of uncertain health concerns.
What does palliative care do?
Palliative care is for patients of any age at any stage in a chronic illness, and can be provided together with curative treatment. The palliative care providers partner with the patient, family and other members of the health care team to provide an extra layer of support. They meet with the patient, their family and health care team, providing support to manage the patient’s symptoms, as well as help patients understand their treatment options and goals for care.
When should someone be referred to palliative care?
- To help with complex and difficult decision-making when determining the goals of care, treatment options and/or transitional planning needs.
- To assist with pain and/or symptoms that are not currently well-controlled.
- After a prolonged hospital stay, and there is minimal progress toward the expected medical outcomes.
- After the patient has repeated hospital admissions due to the chronic illness.
- When the current treatment plan is inconsistent with the patient’s goals.
When a patient and their family are considering comfort care or a referral to hospice.
Who can make a palliative care referral?
Anyone (patient, health care provider, family member) can refer a patient for palliative care. Talk to your doctor or nurse, and ask for it! Palliative care is reimbursable by Medicare, Medi-Cal and most insurance policies.