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Palliative Care and Advance Directive Information

Palliative Care - Patients and Families

When patients were surveyed about the type of healthcare they want to receive when facing a serious illness, they overwhelmingly want:

  • To be respected as a unique individual
  • To be in control of their decisions and the direction of their care
  • To avoid being a burden on loved ones
  • To strengthen their relationships with loved ones
  • Adequate pain and symptom management
  • Their spiritual and cultural beliefs addressed
  • To avoid inappropriate prolongation of dying
  • Close communication between themselves, their family and healthcare professionals.

All of these key patient wishes are encompassed in palliative care.

Our Palliative Care Program is provided by a team of professionals, including physicians, nurses, social workers, and others as needed, in consultation with patients and their families. The three key pillars of palliative care include:

  • Advance care planning
  • Pain and symptom management
  • Caregiver support.

The primary goals of the care team are to prevent or relieve pain and su ering, and to enhance the patient’s quality of life.

Palliative care involves assisting the patient and their family in making difficult medical decisions by holding conversations about the patient’s values, beliefs and personal goals for the care they receive. Patients and their families are encouraged to discuss their individual values and priorities, which are considered along with the type of illness. These values, beliefs and goals for care will guide the choice of treatment and specific interventions.

Making medical decisions can be difficult. It is important to ask yourself and your care team the following questions: 

  • Will the treatment make a difference?
  • Do the burdens of treatment outweigh the benefits?
  • Is there hope for recovery? If so, what will life be like?
  • What do I value? What is important? What is the goal for my medical care?

Palliative care services are delivered using a collaborative and communicative process. Palliative care delivery involves the patient, family, physicians and healthcare team all working together to ensure that the patient experiences care that is compassionate, supportive, comforting and reflect his or her goals.

Palliative care is not the same as hospice care. Palliative care may be provided at any point during a person’s illness, even right from the time of diagnosis. Palliative care may be given at the same time as typical treatments. Palliative care is appropriate at any age, at any stage of disease and along with any other type of treatment a patient may be receiving.

Hospice care is palliative care at the end of life. To enter the hospice program, a person’s life expectancy must be six months or less, and they must make a commitment to forgo usual and customary treatments for their underlying disease.

For more information please visit:
www.getpalliativecare.org 

Advance Directives

Every time you go to a medical facility someone will ask you if you have an advance directive. Advance directives can be several different forms:

  • Health Care Proxy - This form designates other people to make medical decisions for you if you are ever unable to make them for yourself.
  • Living Will - This document identifi es your wishes should you ever be critically ill.
  • Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) - This document is used for individuals who have decided that in the event their breathing or heart stops, they would not like heroic measures to be performed to attempt to restart their lungs or heart.
  • Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) - This document is the least known. 

Learn More

For copies of the forms or for more information regarding planning for a serious illness, please visit the following websites:

www.compassionandsupport.org
www.sharingyourwishes.org
www.theconversationproject.org