• Palliative Care: Adding Quality of Life to Days

    September 27, 2019 | Blog
  • Paradigm Health — Central Indiana’s Palliative Care Expert

    Palliative care is an essential part of the continuum of care for our seniors, but it’s a commonly misunderstood aspect of care. For example: 

    • Palliative care includes pain management but is not the same as chronic pain management. It can help manage pain associated with life-threatening disease as it does other symptoms but is not appropriate for a chronic pain management patient. 
    • Palliative care is often a step along the way to hospice care but it is not the same as hospice care. Typically, patients on palliative care are within one to five years of hospice care; hospice patients are typically within the last 6 months of life. 

    Palliative care helps manage symptoms and prevent re-hospitalizations, especially in tandem with home health care. It focuses on improving quality of life, relieving pain or suffering related to serious illness, and maintaining symptoms for patients in advanced stages of aging or illness. 

    Paradigm Health’s approach is a community-based program where a team of care practitioners works together to determine and carry out the best plan for the patient’s health and goals. 

     

    How does Palliative Care work?

    First, our practitioners perform an initial assessment. They work to understand a patient’s goals of care and then design a plan that works towards those goals. The practitioner assists with healthcare discussions, advance care planning and symptom management. As illness advances and the patient is nearing the last six months of live, the practitioner helps the patient re-examine goals of care and when appropriate will offer the patient the option of hospice care. 

     

    Who is Palliative Care for?

    Palliative care benefits patients with chronic, serious, or life-threatening illnesses who are symptomatic, as well as patients who are at high risk to be re-hospitalized. Physical symptoms can include pain, dyspnea (shortness of breath), constipation, edema, anorexia, and anxiety. However, symptoms can also be psychosocial and/or spiritual in addition to physical. Patients may have stage 3-4 cancer, advanced kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure, or neurodegenerative disease. 

     

    At Paradigm Health, we’ve been tracking outcomes of especially difficult cases. Thanks to nurse practitioner follow-up and oversight, we’ve been able to keep high acuity patients out of the hospital, and at the same time improve clinical skills and outcomes. We see that palliative care helps patients connect with others and maintain beneficial habits and hobbies with their time left.