What is Palliative Care?
Living with a life-threatening, progressive or incurable illness can present many challenges for patients and their families. Palliative care is a team approach to medicine focused on preventing or relieving pain and other physical, emotional, or spiritual distress that can accompany serious illness. It draws on a range of resources and professional expertise and is designed to work in partnership with the patient’s primary care physician to ensure complete, well-coordinated care.
Palliative care benefits both patients and their families. Comfort and support are the main goals. The team helps patients and families make medical decisions, choose treatments, receive reliable information, as well as manage distressing symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, delirium, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, anxiety, depression, and difficulty sleeping.
When is Palliative Care Needed?
Palliative care can be provided at any stage of an illness, regardless of the patient’s life expectancy. In fact, accessing it as early as possible can help patients avoid, reduce, or better prepare for difficulties that may result from the illness or treatment aimed at curing, reversing, or slowing the condition. This makes it different from hospice, a form of palliative care exclusively for terminally ill patients at the last stage of life.
Who Can Benefit from Palliative Care?
Palliative care is appropriate for any patient diagnosed with a chronic, progressive, or life-threatening illness – for example, heart, kidney, liver or respiratory disease; cancer; multiple sclerosis; stroke; severe arthritis; dementia; or a neurological disorder.
About Valley's Palliative Care Services
Our palliative care services are coordinated by dedicated palliative care nurse practitioners and are designed to optimize the quality of life for patients and their families. They include:
- pain and symptom management to achieve maximum patient comfort;
- treatments to maintain and improve patients’ ability to perform the tasks of daily living;
- emotional and spiritual support for patients and their caregivers;
- help with planning for discharge from the hospital – such as information about options, recommendations for ongoing care that enhances quality of life, coordination of care, and communication of the patient’s needs and goals to chosen providers;
- assistance with end-of-life planning and decisions, if appropriate; and
- help with transitioning to hospice if appropriate.
Who Provides Palliative Care?
At The Valley Hospital, palliative care is provided by an expert and experienced team of professionals. Each member of the team is ready to assist in his or her own unique way. Not all patients will see every member of the team, but it is comforting to know such a broad and knowledgeable group is available.
The team includes:
- palliative care doctors
- case managers
- holistic practitioners
- staff nurses
- patient relations nurses
- rehabilitation therapists
- respiratory therapists
- social workers
- nurse practitioners
- biomedical ethics doctors
Accessing Palliative Care Services
You may contact the palliative care team yourself or have your physician or nurse call on your behalf. For more information or to request a referral for service, please call 201-447-8413 and ask for a palliative care representative.
From a hospital phone, call extension 8413.