You may have heard the term palliative care, but are unsure about what it means when you agree to this type of care. Palliative care is a care approach that focuses on providing relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress that is often associated with serious illnesses. It is most helpful to start palliative care early as the interventions are essential to define the goals of care and to minimize difficult symptoms in a timely manner (Koekkoek et al., 2022).
The primary goal of this type of care is a holistic approach to improve the quality of life for people facing life-threatening or chronic conditions. It also begins to involve the family much deeper in discussions about future health planning.
Palliative care is comprehensive in nature and is able to address the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of people and their families. It can be provided at any stage of an illness, alongside curative treatments or as the main form of care when curative options are no longer effective or desired. Palliative care can further transition into hospice care once someone is approaching the end of life.
The top benefits of palliative care include:
- Improved quality of life: Palliative care focuses on enhancing the quality of life for individuals with serious illnesses. In managing symptoms and addressing physical, emotional, and psychosocial needs, people can live as comfortably and fully as possible.
- Symptom management: Palliative care teams are skilled in managing pain, nausea, breathlessness, fatigue, and other distressing symptoms associated with serious illnesses. By minimizing the impact of these symptoms, it will improve overall well-being for the person while also decreasing the stress and anxiety of family members. Family caregivers can often suffer negative consequences from the presence and intensity of these symptoms, therefore, optimizing the control of symptoms will benefit not only the patients but also their caregivers (Valero-Cantero et al., 2022)
- Enhanced communication: Palliative care encourages open and honest communication between patients, their families, and healthcare providers. It facilitates discussions about treatment options, goals of care, and end-of-life decisions, ensuring that everyone is informed and involved in decision-making. The goals and wishes of the person should always be central to the communication, and the plan of care is built in a supportive and compassionate way.
- Emotional and psychosocial support: Palliative care addresses the emotional and psychological aspects of a serious illness. This can include counseling, emotional support, and resources to help patients and their families cope with the challenges they face. This is particularly important as all parties may carry fear and anxiety that they don’t want to show or are afraid to talk about. Having a nurse assess family dynamics is very helpful for navigating the resources and support available.
- Care coordination: Palliative care teams collaborate with other healthcare professionals involved in a patient’s care. This can include home care, physical therapy, and all other specialties involved. A private family nurse is particularly helpful in this setting to ensure smooth transitions between the different healthcare settings and help coordinate various aspects of care. The private nurse can also serve as an advocate for managing medications, therapies, and referrals to specialists to ensure that all care is in alignment with the goals of the person and the family.
- Family support: Palliative care recognizes the impact of serious illness on the patient’s family and loved ones. It provides emotional support and assistance with practical matters, to help families understand the complex journey and cope with the challenges. A private family nurse is incredibly supportive in this dynamic as they see the whole family as the patient, and can address the unique family dynamics as an unbiased professional.
- Continuity of care: Palliative care can be provided alongside curative treatments, ensuring a seamless continuum of care. It helps individuals transition between different treatment modalities and provides ongoing support, even when curative options are no longer pursued. The goals of care must be patient-centered. This means there is a strong emphasis on preserving the dignity and autonomy of patients while also respecting their values, beliefs, and cultural backgrounds. Ultimately, this allows people to make choices that align with their wishes and preferences.
Palliative care is typically covered by most insurance plans, including private insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid, however specific services may vary depending on the insurance provider and the specific plan. In many cases, palliative care is considered a part of the standard medical services covered by insurance. It may cover costs associated with: consultations with palliative care specialists, pain and symptom management, counseling and emotional support, medications, medical equipment, and home visits by healthcare professionals.Individuals need to review their insurance policy or contact their insurance provider directly to understand the specific coverage details for palliative care.
Additionally, private nursing companies can work alongside palliative care teams for a seamless experience for the person and their families. They can often expedite the care that is given by the palliative care teams and can provide additional recommendations for adjuvant treatment options. To learn more about how a private nurse can augment your palliative care plan, please visit navinurses.com.
Looking for more information on hospice care? Read our recent blog post for more information.