Caritas House headquarters of Harris HospisCare (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Does your practice’s website include local or national resources that complement the professional medical services they provide? One way to add value to the services and increase the efficiency of medical office visits is to provide palliative care resources that your patients and their caregivers can use to inform care decisions.
Many people are starting to hear the term palliative care in the media from care managers and from people they know. Yet, national research indicates that most people are unfamiliar with the term or confuse it with only one type of palliative care – hospice. Unlike hospice, palliative care is available to anyone, regardless of his/her illness or condition or life expectancy. Palliative care can be offered in conjunction with curative or life-extending care and is available in all care settings.
The California State University Institute for Palliative Care defines palliative care as care that improves quality of life for patients and families facing serious or chronic illness — whatever the diagnosis or prognosis. It prevents and relieves suffering by addressing pain as well as the physical, emotional, psychosocial and spiritual problems associated with serious and chronic conditions.
Palliative care complements the care that your patients receive from you and acute care providers and can help with care transitions and prevent costly ER visits or (re)hospitalizations, by holistically addressing pain and symptoms while supporting family caregivers. Simply adding some or all of these resources can help to educate your patients about palliative care and communicate your support for this emerging aspect of healthcare.
Helen McNeal is the Executive Director of the California State University Institute for Palliative Care at California State University San Marcos. Prior to joining CSUSM, Helen served as Vice President of San Diego Hospice and The Institute for Palliative Medicine (SDHIPM) where she was responsible for all of the operations of The Institute for Palliative Medicine (IPM). McNeal is also the co-author of Module IV: Palliative Care of A Comprehensive Guide to the Care of Persons Living with HIV/AIDS.