Facing a serious illness or disability can be a trying and difficult experience for patients. At the same time, dealing with chronic illness and its associated symptoms can be emotionally, physically and spiritually disruptive to the family. The Littleton Adventist Hospital Palliative Care Team, comprised of professionals trained to manage such issues, is dedicated to relieving symptoms and maintaining the best quality of life for patients and their families who, together, are fighting the disease.
What is palliative care?
Palliative care is defined as medical care that specializes in effectively treating the pain, symptoms and stress that can accompany serious illness. Palliative care is available to patients at any stage of their illness, offering them a chance to aggressively treat the symptoms of their disease - for example, pain, shortness of breath, nausea - while continuing treatment of the patient's underlying condition.
Effective palliative care increases the likelihood that patients will cope adequately with the rigors of their therapy and maintain a satisfying level of physical and psychosocial functioning. Palliative care treats the patient and family as a unit, providing care to the caregivers, as well as to the patient.
Who is on the Palliative Care team?
The Palliative Care team is comprised of a medical director, an advanced practice nurse, a case manager and a chaplain. They may call in other professionals, as appropriate. Together, they work with the patient and family to make decisions that will improve the quality of life for all. Having everyone involved can ease tensions and create solutions that improve the patient's and family's experience during care and clarify goals of the treatment.
When is a Palliative Care team consult appropriate?
Ask for a Palliative Care team consult when the patient and family are trying to manage:
- Repeated admissions for an advanced illness.
- Symptoms that are interfering with quality of life.
- Lack of response to curative therapies and changing goals of care.
- Conflict regarding illness management or treatment course.
- Significant, progressive, functional decline.
- Spiritual and/or emotional distress.
Palliative care may be appropriate for patients with:
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) or emphysema
- Severe diabetes
- Kidney failure
- Patients with cancer who are undergoing treatment
- Patients with severe joint or back pain
For more information about palliative care at Littleton Adventist Hospital please contact Jamie Benton, MSW or Mary Murray, RN, Palliative Care Nurse, 303-738-2605.