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What Is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is healthcare for individuals of any age who have a chronic, serious illnesses. The goal of palliative care is to ease pain and symptoms and provide support and information to patients and their loved ones. The Lower Cape Fear Hospice Palliative Care team works with a patient’s physician to determine the best medical plan of care.

 

What is the focus of palliative care?
Palliative care addresses the patient’s medical, emotional and spiritual needs. It offers support to patients and their caregivers. Palliative care encourages discussion between patients, families and healthcare professionals in determining the patient’s goals and medical plan of care.

As a patient’s disease progresses, the palliative care team adjusts its support services to the patient and family as their needs change. Palliative care makes a better quality of life possible for patients and their loved ones by providing the best possible quality of care.

Who can receive palliative care?
Patients with chronic, long-term or serious illnesses are appropriate for palliative care. Palliative care is available to individuals to help with pain management, relief of suffering and education on their disease progression and prognosis.

Family members are included in the plan of care, and the palliative care team provides support and information to them as well as the patient.

Who are the palliative care team members?
The palliative care team is an interdisciplinary group of professionals who provide physical, emotional and spiritual care to patients as needed to assist the patient’s physician. The team includes physicians, advanced practice nurses, and other team members as needed.

Who can refer a patient to palliative care?
Anyone can call the palliative care team at 843.848.6480 for information or to make a referral to receive palliative care.

The palliative care physician and advanced practice nurse will meet with the patient. They will determine the goals of care with the patient and family and the patient’s physician and decide which other team members are needed.

How are palliative care services billed?
Medicare and most private insurance companies can be billed for palliative care consultations.

Does the program have other funding sources?
The palliative care program began in January 2002 as a collaboration between Lower Cape Fear Hospice and New Hanover Regional Medical Center. The medical center was awarded a one-year, $100,000 grant from The Duke Endowment to provide palliative care to patients and their families through the palliative care team. The grant has been extended for two years to total $225,000 in funding.

How can the palliative care team help?
The palliative care team can be called to:

  • Assist with pain and symptom management
  • Assist with relief of suffering
  • Discuss the course of disease and goals of care
  • Assist attending physician, patient or family with clarification of development of palliative plan of care
  • Assist in establishing the best possible quality of care as determined by patient and family
  • Offer emotional support to patient and family, including anticipatory grief and bereavement counseling
  • Discuss and complete documentation of advance directives
  • Discuss forgoing specific treatment and/or diagnostic treatments
  • Facilitate transition to alternate care settings, such as home, nursing home, hospice when appropriate

How can I learn more about palliative care?