As we’ve touched upon in our earlier blog, Palliative Care: Helping people live better and happier, palliative care refers to holistic care (medical, psychosocial, spiritual, and emotional) for those living with advanced illnesses or illness that compromises the quality of life for patients and their families. The focus is on relieving symptoms and alleviating distress so that patients can live quality lives despite the challenges they face. Goals of care take into account the patient’s and their families’ needs through a process of shared decision-making and are not solely based on the prognosis. Palliative care can be provided alongside curative treatments without compromise.
What does palliative care involve?
Palliative care is not only end-of-life care. It can be provided from the moment an illness is first diagnosed – irrespective of age, illness trajectory, or prognosis. It includes various forms of support across multiple fronts. These include:
Relieving symptoms and distress
A primary goal of palliative care is to treat symptoms like pain, nausea, depression, fatigue, sleep difficulty, and anxiety, to name a few. It helps alleviate suffering and enables patients and their families to function as optimally as possible.
Working in harmony with the rest of the medical team
Palliative care providers ensure constant communication between interdisciplinary team members and are not just focused on any one aspect. Palliative care seeks to address the “Total Pain” being experienced by the patient – It recognizes that medical outcomes are influenced by psychosocial, emotional, and spiritual considerations and vice versa, and distress in one domain can exacerbate suffering in another.
Providing education and advocacy
Palliative care teams can help patients better understand their condition and how it will impact their lives moving forward. They assist with considering treatment options aligned with the patient’s and family’s values, goals, and preferences.
Offering social support
A palliative care team can help build a network of support around the patient and caregivers, making it easier to cope with the situation. This includes connecting patients and families with support groups and community resources and helping families organize caretaking responsibilities.
Offering spiritual support
Illness and disease impact how a person experiences meaning and purpose in their lives; it reframes what hope means and affects their connection with those around them. Addressing concerns that arise along these lines is part of spiritual care that Palliative care includes.
Financial and legal support
A palliative care team can also connect patients and their families with resources that can assist with legal, financial matters and even living arrangements if required.
Choose palliative care
Palliative care doesn’t just help patients manage their symptoms, it empowers them to make better decisions for themselves and improve the quality of their lives. And as research has shown, it also goes a long way toward improving healthcare outcomes. Depending on the availability of resources, palliative care can be administered at home, at a hospital, outpatient facility, an assisted living facility, or a hospice.
Palliative care is increasingly becoming necessary for those struggling with long-term and debilitating illnesses, and the need to ensure better access is great. Learn more about how palliative care can change people’s lives and how you can help change the tide at palliumindia.org.