November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. The Center to Advance Palliative Care defines palliative care as “specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses.” It focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of a serious illness, regardless of their diagnosis, at any age and any stage, and it helps patients and families manage the gradual transition from cure focused treatment to comfort-focused treatment over the duration of the illness. Palliative care is not synonymous with hospice or end-of-life care but it shares many of the same principles.
One of the main principles of palliative care is teamwork across disciplines. Physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, psychologists, and others work as a team to identify and effectively treat the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. Teams meet with patients and surrogate decision-makers to establish the goals of care, support families in crisis and plan for safe transitions from the hospital to other care sites. When this teamwork happens along with other principles of palliative care studies show improved survival and quality of life, reduced avoidable suffering and distress, and reduced hospital re-admissions.
When these and other challenges are addressed by palliative care teamwork, The Center to Advance Palliative Care says patients’ physical and psychosocial symptoms improve, family caregiver well-being improves, and patient, family and physician satisfaction improves.
During National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, remember the value of teamwork. Recognize the contribution of other disciplines. Teamwork is always essential, but especially when it comes to caring for patients with a serious illness. CCMH is proud to offer both Home Health and Hospice Services as well as Chaplaincy Services to support our patients with Palliative Care needs.