When Do You Introduce Palliative Care?
Watching someone you love suffer from long-term illness can be heartbreaking. Many families believe that there is only help for those who need to be hospitalized or who are experiencing end of life. This can leave them feeling helpless and frustrated.
But when families who contact us at Santé learn about palliative care, they are reassured that there are options for their loved one. At Santé, we offer support for both patients and families throughout the palliative care process. We’d like to share some tips with you here.
When is palliative care appropriate?
Palliative care is often appropriate for patients diagnosed with serious illnesses like cancer, COPD, liver failure, CHF, dementia, kidney failure, or ALS. It can also be introduced following a significant change such as progression of a disease, increase in symptoms, or loss of function. Many patients are identified as strong candidates for palliative care during an ICU or short-term hospitalization.
In many cases, it is a family member who first identifies the need for palliative care. Family members are a critical component of the patient’s total care. They know intimately the patient’s daily challenges and are personally involved and invested in the patient’s care.
How can you initiate a discussion on palliative care?
The most important information to convey is that you don’t want your loved one to suffer. Palliative care does not mean that end of life is near; it simply means that somebody is committed to managing the symptoms your loved one is experiencing to provide them with quality and comfort.
You can assist your loved one in coming to a positive conclusion about palliative by asking questions to reveal their needs:
- “What is your greatest challenge right now?”
- “How would it change your life if you were able to better manage this challenge?
Once you’ve helped your loved one identify their greatest needs and consider the benefit that resolution would provide, you can introduce the topic of palliative care.
Explaining palliative care
How you describe palliative care can drive the outcome of your discussion. Palliative care, put simply, is patient-centered care designed to ease the burden of illness. Palliative care is about comfort and quality, and the patient has complete control over their own treatment plan and the support of caring and experienced professionals.
At Santé it is our pleasure to answer your questions about palliative care and to guide you through the process. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you and your loved one.