Palliative care is an interdisciplinary medical caregiving approach aimed at optimizing quality of life and mitigating suffering among people with serious, complex illnesses.
Palliative care plans put the patient’s desires, goals and decisions first, while providing pain relief as well as relief from symptoms and stress related to serious or chronic illnesses.
This approach improves the quality of life of patients and their families by preventing and relieving suffering through comprehensive assessment and treatment of pain and other needs, whether physical, psychosocial, and/or spiritual. This kind of comfort care is appropriate at any age and for nearly any type of illness.
At Visiting Nurse Association of Texas, the VNA Care Choices palliative care program gives patients and families greater control in care decisions by enabling patients to continue receiving treatment while receiving supportive care in the home.
One reason many people choose palliative care is that they are able to keep their own doctor. Especially in the VNA Care Choices program, your own physician can continue to oversee and direct the care. In a time of physical and emotional stress, it can be a huge comfort to patients that they are able to stay with a doctor they already know and trust.
People may also be drawn to palliative care because of their direct access to a dedicated care team that helps manage pain and other symptoms along with spiritual, social, and emotional support. Your care team will include a registered nurse, medical social worker, chaplain, volunteer and a palliative care physician for consultation as needed.
Since no one person or illness is the same, palliative care services are highly customized based on each patient’s unique needs. Palliative care seeks to remove the burden from you or loved ones by taking care of logistics like RN care coordination and understanding which medical supplies are needed in the home. RN care coordination may also involve help navigating patient-centered goals or facilitating communication between you and care providers regarding treatment options.
With physician-directed care and symptom management from home, you are not only able to preserve treatment flexibility, but your chances of re-hospitalization and emergency room visits are much less. In partnership with the patient’s attending physician, palliative care teams can provide advanced care planning and assistance with medication management from the comfort of the patient’s home.
If you or a loved one is facing a serious illness, you may benefit from palliative care. Ask your health care professional for a palliative care consultation or reach out to our team to learn more about the VNA Care Choices program.
For more information, call Sarah Harris, at (214) 535-2615, email Harriss@vnatexas.org.