Palliative care helps prevent and treat suffering

From the Chief Clinical Officer, Lisa Deal, RN, MPH, ScD

Many professionals who care for people with serious illness are now practicing and promoting palliative care – care that helps anticipate, prevent, and treat physical, emotional, and/or spiritual suffering.

Palliative care supports quality of life for anyone dealing with a chronic or terminal illness, regardless of whether the patient continues to receive aggressive therapy. It’s a wonderful tool in the medical toolkit for helping people live their best lives, and meet their own goals of care.

The term palliative care can be confusing, because it can take many different forms. Palliative care specialists come from a range of disciplines, and include doctors, nurses, social workers, and spiritual counselors. Together, they address sources of distress such as pain, depression, insomnia, shortness of breath, nausea, or anxiety. Palliative care experts can also help patients and families understand their illness, their choices, and advance care planning.

Here at Mission Hospice & Home Care, our interdisciplinary teams have always worked together to provide palliative care that focuses on what matters most to patients for their quality of life. Hospice is perhaps the best-known kind of palliative care – relief of suffering for those in the last six months of life. But palliative care can be given at any stage of a disease, and goes beyond hospice.

Our Advanced Care Program is for patients with a life-limiting illness who may be pursuing aggressive treatment, such as chemotherapy. Our teams offer in-home palliative care, including skilled nursing, rehabilitation, and medical social work services to support both patients and their families. And for patients who are in between Hospice and Advanced Care, our Transitions program provides emotional support and nurse consultation focused on maintaining quality of life.

If you are a professional or a family member with questions about how palliative care could benefit someone you know, our Clinical Outreach team would be happy to talk to you – please call us at 650.554.1000.