The goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of life for patients and their families who are facing problems associated with life-threatening and life-limiting illness. Unlike hospice care, which is designed specifically for those approaching the last stages of life, palliative care is for all stages of a serious illness. It can be offered at the same time as standard therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation, and has been shown to improve both quality of life and length of survival in patients with lung cancer.
Palliative care specialists can help relieve a patient’s suffering by assessing and treating physical, psychosocial and spiritual problems.
Managing Patient Needs
Palliative Care at Crozer-Keystone focuses on the comprehensive management of the physical, psychological and social needs of patients living with progressive, life-limiting illnesses, regardless of life expectancy. Palliative care also provides answers, information, assistance and comfort to patients, their families and friends.
Crozer-Keystone's palliative teams include board-certified palliative care physicians and specialty nurses as well as social workers, case managers, hospitalists, unit nurses and intensivists. The team works closely with each patient’s physicians to provide the best possible care.
Who Receives Palliative Care?
Patients eligible for palliative care include anyone with the complex needs related to chronic and progressive illness. Patients and family members can ask for a palliative care consultation at any stage of illness. Patients can also receive palliative care during ongoing treatment.
Patients who commonly receive palliative care include those who have:
- Serious, potentially life-limiting illnesses
- Complex pain issues
- All forms of advanced cancer
- Advanced heart, lung or kidney disease
- Neurological illnesses such as stroke and dementia
- Difficulty understanding treatment choices or making treatment decisions
- Considered hospice but need more information or guidance
Palliative Care at Crozer-Keystone includes the following services:
Comforting Patients, Providing Compassionate Care
The palliative care team treats pain and symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, shortness of breath, depression and anxiety, while helping patients maintain a comfortable and independent life for as long as possible.
Patient and Family Meetings to Discuss Treatment Options
Crozer-Keystone coordinates patient/family meetings to discuss treatment options, also known as "Goals of Care." We can help patients and families interpret the benefits and burdens of care such as tests, surgeries or other treatments and help them determine when treatments are no longer helpful.
Patient and Family Support to Help Make Difficult Medical Decisions
We coordinate care and treatment with each patient's doctors. We believe in "Advance Care Planning," which enables the patient and caregiver to express, in advance, their preferences related to pain management, patient advocacy, beneficial vs. non-beneficial treatments, ease and comfort, counseling and other quality-of-life issues. The team provides emotional and spiritual support throughout the process.
Many consults and initial family meetings are followed by one-on-one interactions with the patient, individual family members and/or additional family meetings to ensure a smooth path to care.
Hospice Referrals and Support Services
The team helps coordinate referrals to area hospices where needed, as well as other support services for patients after their hospital stay.
The palliative care team offers support to families that lose a loved one while in the hospital, with outreach from bereavement groups and other follow-up communication.