The team helps patients and families make medical decisions and choose treatments that are in line with their goals.
Palliative home health is the medical specialty which focuses on relief of the pain, stress and other debilitating symptoms of advanced illness. Palliative care is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Patients have a range of diseases and respond differently to treatment options. A key benefit of palliative care is that it customizes treatment to meet the individual needs of each patient and their family members.
Palliative care works to relieve symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping, often associated with advanced illnesses. It helps patients gain the strength to carry on with daily life and helps to improve their ability to tolerate medical treatments. Overall, palliative care offers patients the best possible quality of life during their illness, while providing emotional and spiritual support the patient and family both need.
Benefiting both the patient and their family, symptom management, communication and support for the caregiver/family are the main goals. The team helps patients and families make medical decisions and choose treatments that are in line with their goals.
Palliative care is NOT the same as hospice care and may be provided at any time during a person`s illness, even from the time of diagnosis, and can be provided at the same time as curative treatment such as chemotherapy, radiation or dialysis. Though palliative home health visits are less frequent than hospice, the patient and family are afforded time to explore options for treatment.
Many patients who are in an advanced stage of a terminal disease need the pain and symptom management that hospice can provide, but the patient desires to continue their course of treatment for their illness. Our goal is to offer options to patients and their families as they complete their treatments of radiation, chemotherapy, dialysis, and/or other aggressive therapies.
This team approach allows our team to care for the patient in the most appropriate setting, and allows the patient and family to take their time in making some very important decisions related to their condition and treatment.
The Effectiveness of Early Palliative Care in Lung Cancer Patients
In a 2010 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, lung cancer patients receiving early palliative care lived 23.3% longer than those who delayed palliative treatment as is currently the standard. Median survival for earlier palliative care patients was 2.7 months longer than those receiving standard care. The study authors hypothesized that “with earlier referral to a hospice program, patients may receive care that results in better management of symptoms, leading to stabilization of their condition and prolonged survival.”
Temel J.S., Greer J.A., Muzinkansky A., et. al. Early Palliative Care for Patients with Metastatic Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer. New England Journal of Medicine, 2010 August; 363(8):733-42;
The Effectiveness of Palliative Care in Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) Patients
In a 2007 NHCPO article published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, CHF patients receiving palliative care experienced an 81-day survival benefit compared to CHF patients not receiving palliative care. The study authors concluded that “across groups studied, care enrollment is not significantly associated with shorter survival, but for certain terminally ill patients, this care is associated with longer survival times.”
Connor S.R., Fitch K., Pyenson B., Spence C., Iwaski K., et. al. Comparing Hospice and Non-hospice Patient Survival Among Patients Who Die Within a Three-Year Window, Journal of Pain and Symptom
Management, Vol. 33 No. 3, March 2007.