What to Do When The Patient Wants Palliative Care

Posted on April 6, 2022

People who communicate their desire to receive only comfort care and symptom relief in the last week of their life are much more likely to get the type of care they desire. The study found that these life-extending care actions did not result in any addition of life. 72 % of patients know they are terminally ill and talk to their doctor about their wishes for end-of-life care, such as symptom relief and comfort care. In patients who did not receive radical treatment at end-of-life as rated by caregivers, quality of life was better.  

How Hospice Works

Hospice is a philosophy of care with over 3,000 hospice programs around the country. The goal of hospice care is to offer relief and care when a cure is not possible. Mostly, hospice care is given in the home, but may also be available privately in nursing homes, hospitals, or hospice care facilities.

The basic prerequisites to be eligible for hospice care:

  • A physician has informed that if the disease runs its normal course, the patient has less than six months to live.
  • Aggressive or Life-extending treatment is not working.
  • The patient and the family have opted to pursue “palliative care”- a pain control and symptom management course only. 

What Hospice Care Includes

The assurance of hospice care is to provide a patient with comfort and pain control, and dignity at the end of life. There is no attempt to speed up death, nor is there an attempt to prolong life. The focus is on providing as much peace as possible, surrounded by friends and family in a supportive setting.

Here is what also you may anticipate:

  • Hospice care is done by a caregivers’ team, including counselors and volunteers, doctors and nurses, social workers, therapists, and spiritual advisors.  
  • Suppose home caregivers need a relief or things just become too challenging to manage at home. In that case, hospice care can be continued at a hospice care facility or the hospital, either temporary or permanent. Hospice care provides round-the-clock support. 
  • Hospice care is for families and patients. It continues after the patient has expired. Family support begins at the beginning of hospice care, and mourning care continues for surviving loved ones through the grieving process.

Hospice has three main goals for the patient and their family:

  • Pain and symptom management
  • Emotional support
  • Spiritual support

Hospice Care Tips for Caregivers

Are you caring for someone who may benefit from hospice care? Then, the time to start talking about it is now. Studies indicate that many patients do not still speak about hospice care with their doctors and therefore is often too late for patients to gain all the benefits.  

Here’s how to start:

  • Prepare an Advance Directive with the family concensus that outlines what type of care your loved one wants at the end of life. Share a copy of this with your loved one’s primary health physician.
  • Find out the type of hospice care available in your community. The National Hospice Foundation The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, Palliative Medicine and the American Academy of Hospice and are all good resources for hospice care.
  • Hospice care is always optional. If circumstances change and you want to try more aggressive treatment you always have that ability.

 What hospice does not do

Hospice care does not prolong life or hasten death, which is a common misunderstanding. Just as midwives and doctors lend support and expertise during the process of birth, hospice care is present to provide its expertise to the patient and his or her family during death. While this is never an easy thing to deal with, it is a natural part of life, and its goal is to make that journey as peaceful and as painless as possible for everyone involved.