Palliative care (p)ronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv is derived from the Latin word palliare which means “to cloak suffering”. Palliative care focuses on the relief of pain and other symptoms in people with serious illness.
This type of care is centered around patients and their families, to provide the best possible quality of life at any stage in the patient’s illness. Palliative care can be provided alongside medical care for curing your illness, known as curative treatment.
Palliative care can help treat symptoms associated with side effects from some of these curative treatments, such as pain, nausea, vomiting, constipation and poor appetite.
Palliative care can also help you with the emotional and psychological effects serious illness can have on you and your loved ones, and to address your future plans about your health and medical care. It can also help you understand your illness and treatment plan better and help you and your team of doctors and nurses be “on the same page” about what you want.
How is palliative care different from hospice care?
Palliative care is available from diagnosis through all stages of a serious illness. Hospice care is care offered specifically in the final weeks to months of a life limiting illness and when curative treatments are no longer considered helpful.
Who is palliative care appropriate for?
Anyone with a serious illness, having pain and other symptoms. Serious illnesses may include but are not limited to:
- Heart disease
- Lung or respiratory disease
- Kidney failure
- Neurologic diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or stroke
Anyone with multiple, chronic medical problems and/or having multiple admissions to the hospital over a few months; and anyone who has been in the hospital for a prolonged period of time and is getting weaker, instead of stronger from their treatments would be appropriate for palliative care.
How can the palliative care team at St. Joseph’s help me?
Palliative care at St. Joseph’s is provided by an interdisciplinary team that includes specialized physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, chaplains, therapists, nutritionists and pharmacists. This team works with you and your loved ones to provide:
- Assistance in better understanding your illness and choices available for your care.
- Treatment for pain and other symptoms such as nausea, shortness of breath, poor appetite, etc.
- Emotional, psychological and spiritual support to you and your family.
- The best possible quality of life while coping with a serious illness.
How can I get palliative care while I am in the hospital?
Speak to your doctor and request a referral to the palliative care team.