Palliative care is extra care that is given alongside curative treatment for very serious illnesses. Palliative care is given for as long as possible no matter what the prognosis is. Palliative care can be given at any stage of a serious disease. In fact, palliative care can be started as soon as there is a diagnosis or immediately after an operation.
Serious Diseases that can Receive Palliative Care along with Curative Treatment
According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), serious diseases that can receive palliative care along with curative treatment are:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Advanced dementia
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Amyloid lateral sclerosis (ALS) also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease
- Heart failure
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
The Palliative Care Team
The Palliative Care consultation team is made up of various medical specialists. These all work together with the patient’s doctors who are treating the illness. These medical specialists are:
- Social workers
- Occupational therapists
Aim of the Palliative Care Team
The aim of the palliative care team is to help relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life for a person who is under treatment for a serious disease. Palliative care can also help patients understand what medical options for treatment are available for them. The Palliative Care team provides medical, practical and emotional support to patients, their families and their doctors. Palliative Care can be provided in skilled nursing and rehab facilities, at home or in hospitals. The palliative care team can provide treatment for symptoms and conditions such as:
- Sleep disturbances
- Shortness of breath
- Relief from stress, anxiety and depression
Financing Palliative Care
Palliative care may be paid for by Medicare, Medicaid, private long-term care insurance companies, the Department of Veteran Affairs and personal funds.
Palliative Care in a Long-term Skilled Nursing Care Facility
Patients and their families can decide where to have palliative care. Depending on the condition of the patient and the type of treatment they need, they may decide that a skilled nursing care facility is the best option. However, in cases of advanced dementia, only the family can make the decision.
Palliative Care at Royal Suites Healthcare and Rehabilitation in Galloway Township, New Jersey
The Royal Suites Healthcare and Rehabilitation is a beautiful 5-star rehab and skilled nursing care facility in scenic Galloway Township, New Jersey. Skilled nursing care at its best is available 24 hours a day. Royal Suites has a very high ratio of staff to residents. Palliative care at the hands of an expert team and hospice care are also available.
Moving from Palliative care to Hospice Care or Comfort Care
There may come a time when the doctors see that their treatment is not working to cure or slow down the progress of the disease. They decide that further treatment for the illness is not going to help and believe the patient will probably die within six months. In some cases the treatment not only is not working, but it may have very bad side effects leading to unnecessary suffering. In this case palliative care can be switched to hospice care or the palliative care team may continue with their treatment, but will focus more on comfort care.
When a person enters hospice care they understand it is because the treatment they have been receiving is not curing the disease or slowing it down. Hospice care is not given alongside any kind of curative treatment, although a person may decide to leave hospice care and return to palliative care. However, only the treatment for the illness is stopped and a person may continue to receive medication for pain, blood pressure, etc. In other words, if chemotherapy for cancer is discontinued, the patient can still have medication for other reasons like relieving symptoms. Also, if someone does not die within the six month period, they can still remain in the hospice. Hospice care can be carried out at home, in a hospital, at an assisted living facility, at a hospice center or in a skilled nursing care facility.
It is good to begin palliative care as soon as possible once a diagnosis of a serious disease has taken place.