The term palliative care is used to describe medical care given to people who are suffering from serious chronic illnesses to alleviate symptoms, but not cure the condition. The core principle of palliative care is the alleviation of symptoms of the illness in order to increase the comfort and well being of the patient and immediate family. This, as opposed to curative care, does not seek to treat and cure the underlying disease.
Palliative care teams provide assistance to patients who are in hospitals, in hospice care and in their homes. The care provided, while similar in some aspects to that of hospice care, is more broad-based and not restricted to those who are at end-of-life.
Key Aspects of Palliative Care
Many people suffer from long-term chronic illnesses that are not in themselves life-threatening but which seriously affect their quality of life. Consequently, people suffering from chronic illness often withdraw from society because they are embarrassed by their condition and their inability to function normally. Apart from experiencing excessive pain, they often suffer from low self-esteem and other psychological issues.
Because of this, palliative care programs are based on a holistic approach that seeks to:
- Use medication to alleviate pain and other symptoms of the illness.
- Provide counseling, emotional and psychological support to the patients and their families to help them live with, and accept, the condition causing distress.
- Neither hasten nor delay death.
- Provide support that helps patients remain active and productive members of the community.
Who Needs Palliative Care?
Palliative care is recommended for patients suffering from any long-term disease or a condition that is painful, unpleasant or debilitating. It is intended to help the patient, their family and caregivers to deal more effectively with the condition. It's important to note that it is not restricted to people who have an incurable condition and neither is it intended to replace curative therapy when this is appropriate.
From a medical perspective, palliative care is used to manage the symptoms of the disease or condition and also to ameliorate the side effects of curative treatments. Some examples of diseases and conditions where palliative care is indicated include:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Heart disease
- Lung disease
- Serious and permanent physical injury
Palliative Care: Filling the Gap
The provision of palliative care is an important adjunct to curative and end-of-life treatments. Unlike hospice care, which is restricted to providing care during the last six months of a patient's life, palliative care can be offered at any stage. Already, approximately two-thirds of all hospitals have palliative care programs, and their experience is that palliative care reduces overall patient care cost.
Concordance Healthcare Solutions is proud to be able to support the needs of hospice, acute care and nursing facility palliative care efforts. We do this by providing cost-effective quality patient care products and management tools to contain costs and improve operational efficiencies.