common myths about palliative care

Dispelling Common Myths About Palliative Care, Part Two

This blog on Palliative Care is a follow-on to our first blog on May 28th on common myths about Hospice Care.  It’s the second on our series to provide education and enlightenment on services. In this case, those provided when receiving Hospice, Palliative, Home Health and Home Care services.

They are valuable services that intersect on some levels. Yet, their primary objectives differ regarding patients. The common thread is they all work together with a common goal of quality of life.

Hospice Care is only for patients with a diagnosis of six or fewer months to live. Palliative Care often gets confused as being the same as hospice care but it is not.

Palliative care is also known as supportive care. It offers medical and related treatment towards living as well as possible. It can bring hope, control, and a chance at a better quality of life for loved ones and their caregivers.  Palliative Care can be good option when you loved one has a chronic illness. Your instincts and concern for your loved one is about quality of life. Quality of life is the primary goal of Palliative Care.

Most of the information in this blog is from our friends from Transitions LifeCare. They are a 501 (C)(3) nonprofit organization based in Raleigh. The organization began as Hospice of Wake County in 1979. Transitions LifeCare provides a comprehensive circle of expert care and support. This includes Hospice, Home Health, Palliative and Grief Care.

The blog below first appeared on Transitions LifeCare’ s blog “Let’s Talk Transitions.” We share it with their permission.

Palliative Care

A chronic serious illness often includes physical and emotional challenges. They stop you from enjoying your normal quality of life. Palliative care prevents or relieves their symptoms, such as pain and anxiety.

Most common myths about palliative care:

“It’s only for people with cancer”

Above all, palliative care supports people with any serious diagnosis. People with cancer have a host of symptoms and concerns for which they need support.
But other conditions fall under the purview of palliative care. Heart failure, dementia, lung disease, and neurological diseases like ALS. Many of these conditions can have the same distressing symptoms as cancer. This includes pain, nausea, shortness of breath, and depression.
People with these chronic illnesses can also benefit from palliative care. They can maximize their quality of life and prepare in case their health status declines.

“It means I’m close to death”

Unlike palliative care, hospice patients have six months or fewer to live. A medical professional must certify this to be true. Care can begin at any stage of a serious illness.

Additionally, many people utilize palliative care for support and symptom management. This could be due to undergoing chemotherapy or other treatments.

Receiving early palliative care may actually help patients live longer than standard care. They also reap the benefits of a higher quality of life throughout the final course of their illness.

Palliative Care and the Caregiver

Palliative care is also known as supportive care. While many people believe it is the same as hospice care and it means end of life, it is different. Likewise, palliative care offers treatment towards living as well as possible. Altogether it can bring hope, control, and a chance at a better quality of life. For both loved one and their caregivers.

Above all, palliative care is patient/family-centered care. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious or chronic illness. It’s important to recognize the common myths about palliative care to ensure proper medical treatment for a loved one.

Healthcare professionals embrace a patient’s values, goals, and wishes considering disease management. They ease the burden from pain, anxiety, fear, and other symptoms. With this in mind, family and friends who provide care learn about the patient’s plans and wishes. They receive support for the physical and mental costs of caregiving.

In other words, benefits of such care will bring a better quality of life for patient and caregivers. They receive help with difficult medical treatments. There’s often a reduction in hospitalizations and readmission. As a result, patients often see faster recovery and longer survival rates.

Palliative care is the best option under these circumstances:

  • Frequent emergency room visits as a result of a variety of ailments
  • Three or more admissions to the hospital due to the same symptoms within a year
  • Serious side effects from treatments such as chemotherapy
  • Eating problems as a result of serious illness
  • Medical professionals in palliative care communicate, show compassion, and see the “whole” person. With special attention to including the family as part of the healthcare team.

Our final thoughts and advice

On the whole, this is wonderful information from Transitions LifeCare. If your loved one is in a lot of pain or faced with painful treatments, consider Palliative Care.

In summary, every person is unique. With this in mind, it’s important to discuss your quality of life goals. This could include your family or with professionals like Transitions LifeCare.

We would like to help position the various services as far as features and costs. For this reason, we put together the educational table below. It contrasts the various service options available to you.

Issue Home Health Home Care Hospice Care Palliative Care
MD order needed? Yes No Yes Yes
Visit frequency Typically 1-3 visits/ week per discipline based on patient’s needs and progress Client decides- can be daily Typically 1-3 visits/ week per discipline for nursing and aides, 1-3 visits/ month social work and spiritual care Typically one visit every 2-4 weeks
Visit duration Typically about 1 hour Client decides – can be 24/7 Typically about 1 hour Typically about 1 hour
Payment Medical Insurance, Medicare, Medicaid Private pay, VA Aid and Assistance, Medicaid,
some LTC policies and some Medicare plans
Medical insurance, Medicare Medical insurance, Medicare
Services may include PT, OT, ST, RN, SW
and CNA visits
Personal care and companionship – includes meal prep, light housekeeping, laundry, medication reminders RN, SW, Spiritual Care and CNA visits NP, RN and CNA

Social Worker

Private Home YES YES YES YES
Independent Senior YES YES YES YES
Community YES YES YES
Assisted Living Facility YES YES YES YES
Skilled Nursing Facility NO YES YES YES
Hospice Facility NO YES YES NA

We hoped this article helped dispel some of the common myths about palliative care. If you have questions, please call us at 919-436-1871 to learn more about our Apex home health care options and the surrounding communities we serve.