What is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is specialized, comprehensive medical care for people dealing with a serious illness. Whether you are facing a new diagnosis of cancer, living with congestive heart failure or coping with the advanced stages of dementia, palliative care focuses on alleviating the symptoms, pain and stress of living with an illness, whether or not a cure is feasible. Palliative care is available at any age or at any stage of a serious illness, from patients undergoing treatment for curable illnesses to those who are nearing the end of life.
Palliative care provides relief from distressing symptoms and helps improve quality of life for patients and families. Care can begin as soon as a patient and their doctor feel it would be beneficial. For many, this may be shortly after the diagnosis of a serious condition. Palliative care is provided across care settings including hospitals, clinics and in a patient's home.
Palliative Care services include:
- Expert management of pain and non-pain symptoms that can make living with a serious illness challenging
- Education about the illness and options for care
- Counseling and support
- Care coordination between primary and specialty care providers and specialized care teams
- Social work services, including help with long-term planning and advance directives
- Crisis prevention and management planning that reflects individual needs, values and goals for care
- Spiritual care
Who Provides Palliative Care?
Palliative care is a partnership between your primary care provider and other medical specialists including doctors, nurses and social workers who provide an extra layer of support.
What does a Referral to Palliative Care Mean?
A referral for a palliative care consultation means you are dealing with difficult medical problems that cause pain and discomfort, emotional uncertainty and personal complications for you and your loved ones. Research shows that palliative care can help people live longer by reducing the pain and stress a serious illness may cause.
When to Seek Palliative Care
- People of any age including adults and children with cancer, heart failure, kidney disease, lung disease, dementia and other serious or life-threatening conditions.
- Individuals who feel their quality of life has been compromised by symptoms such as physical or emotional pain, nausea, shortness of breath, loss of appetite and fatigue.
- Patients who have had multiple hospitalizations or emergency room visits for an illness.
Do I Need to Stop Curative or Life-prolonging Treatment to Receive Palliative Care?
No. Palliative care is available at any stage of a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment. The palliative care team will help you identify and communicate your goals for your medical care.
Benefits of UnityPoint Clinic Palliative Care
Whether you are facing a new diagnosis, living with a chronic illness or coping with the advanced stages of a progressive condition, our Palliative Care team is committed to helping you determine the best course of care so you can focus on what's important to you. We will also work with a care team so your care is coordinated no matter if you're in the doctor's office, the hospital or at home.