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What Is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is holistic and inclusive care for patients with any chronic disease. The focus of palliative care is to help the patient and the family manage the effects of the disease, the treatment plan, and/or the side effects related to the disease and the treatment of the disease (Hinkle and Cheever, 2018, p. 391). Patients living with a chronic disease will continue with their prescribed treatment from their care providers, including chemotherapy, biotherapy, and radiation therapy.

The overall goal is to provide the best quality of life possible while decreasing distressing symptoms for the patient and the family using an interprofessional team approach. Palliative care is delivered in the home, outpatient centers, and in specialty care centers (Taylor, Lynn, and Bartlett, 2019, p. 256).

What Are the Benefits to Palliative Care?

Palliative care focuses on the physical and psychosocial well-being of the patient and the family.  The palliative care provider(s) works with the patient’s established health care team to address the symptoms of illness that are not well controlled.  This, in turn, will improve the patient’s symptoms, provide better coordination of care and services & ultimately create better quality of life for the patient and family (Matzo and Sherman, 2015, p. 23).

 When Should Palliative Care Be Considered?

Palliative care can be started at any time but is better to start sooner rather than later.  Once symptoms start impacting quality of life, talk with your care team about palliative care.  There are many services and resources available to help the patient and family manage the course of the disease.

 

Where Can I Find Out More About Palliative Care?

There are many ways to obtain further information. Your provider can direct you to services. Your local hospice and palliative care agencies have great information for you.  The Cancer Support Community of Arizona offers services that can improve quality of life with its free psychosocial support programs including CanSurround.  You can also contact the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization at www.nhpco.org.

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