When a loved one lives with a severe or life-threatening illness, it impacts their quality of life, their family and friends, and caregivers. Cancer, chronic lung disease, heart disease, and dementia are just some of the conditions that they must manage.

Getting through each day presents multiple challenges for care recipients and their caregivers. Performing daily tasks, managing symptoms, and administering medications are often a struggle, and needs continually change as an illness evolves.

Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families and is often a bridge to hospice care.

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care helps manage symptoms and stress that occur with a life-threatening illness. Nurses from CHP Home Care & Hospice assess the patient’s pain and symptoms, identify goals and preferences, and work to achieve them.

Similar to home health and hospice, a palliative care team includes physicians, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, and chaplains.

Who Can Benefit from Palliative Care?

Anyone who is living with a severe or life-threatening illness, their families, and caregivers can benefit from palliative care. Though many chronic illnesses happen later in life, patients of all ages can receive palliative care at any stage of their condition.

The CHP palliative team may deliver care at home, or at a long-term care facility.

Possible criteria for admission may include:

  • Multiple hospitalizations or ER visits in the past 60 days
  • Cancer with metastatic disease
  • Pain associated with a life-threatening illness
  • CHF/COPD with previous hospitalizations
  • Rapid functional or nutritional decline

How is Palliative Care Different than Hospice?

Palliative care and hospice are similar, but NOT the same thing. The main difference is palliative care recipients may receive medical treatments and curative efforts for their illnesses. Palliative care also helps patients and their families explore treatment options and provides assistance and tips for relieving stress and discomfort.

By comparison, hospice care focuses on the care, comfort, and quality of life of a person with a serious illness who is approaching the end of life.

If medical treatments stop working or a patient chooses not to continue treatment for a serious illness, an individual may decide to start hospice care. If a doctor deems that a terminally ill patient has six months or less to live, they can begin hospice care.

The hospice team supports the patient during hospice care, and their family and curative efforts stop.

Palliative Care Benefits

One of the most significant palliative care benefits is the support it provides to alleviate the stress individuals experience while living with a serious illness.

Also, having a multi-disciplined team approach allows for different perspectives and suggestions to enhance a patient’s care, offer treatment options, and work toward achieving individual and family goals.

  • Receiving palliative care early in a serious illness reduces unnecessary hospital admissions and the use of health services.
  • Palliative care improves the quality of life of patients and their families as they face a life-threatening illness.
  • Palliative support also improves the quality of life for caregivers.

The CHP Home Care & Hospice staff are available to help individuals and families dealing with severe illness. They can discuss whether palliative care is appropriate for them and arrange it with their doctor.