Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses given at the same time as other medical therapies, including curative treatments. It focuses on providing relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness. Whatever the diagnosis, the goal is to improve the quality of life for both the patient and family. Sensitivity to cultural, religious, and social concerns is also important. It can be offered at the same time as other medical therapies.
Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, and other specialists who work together with primary care physicians to provide additional support for the patient and family. It is appropriate at any stage of a serious illness. Inpatient consultation is also provided at Kent and Women & Infants hospitals, as well as at Women & Infants’ Program in Women’s Oncology.
In 2012, Care New England joined a nationwide initiative, The Conversation Project, along with 10 other pioneering organizations, to support an effort by the Institute of Healthcare Improvement (IHI) to better-prepared health care providers to receive and respect patients’ wishes and end-of-life care.
Under the medical direction of Ana Tuya Fulton, MD, FACP, AGSF, executive chief of geriatrics and palliative care, the Palliative Care Program at Care New England has incorporated many principles of The Conversation Project. The program strives to engage with patients to better understand what matters most to them as they face serious medical illnesses while helping them to achieve their personal goals.
No. The goal of meeting with a palliative care specialist is to make sure your symptoms are controlled, and that you have the resources you need to live as well as you can for as long as you can. You do not have to stop any of the treatments you are already receiving.
Palliative care clinicians concentrate on managing your pain and other symptoms to help improve the quality of your life. They can help with the side effects of medical treatment and can explore your concerns about the future of your health. They will ask you what is most important to you and can help you match your treatment options to your goals.
Most private insurance companies and health maintenance organizations cover all or part of palliative care. This is also true for Medicare and Medicaid.