The goal of ValleyCare's Palliative Care Program is to provide the best quality of life for patients with advanced diseases and to focus on the relief of suffering while preserving a patient's dignity.
Palliative care is offered to patients who have been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness. A life-limiting illness is one that is chronic, progressive and incurable. These patients might have years to live but may be severely impacted by the disease process.
ValleyCare's Palliative Care Program is not an end-of-life care service. As a patient's illness progresses, Comfort Care or Hospice may be recommended for further support.
Some of the diagnoses that fit palliative care are:
- Congestive heart failure
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Failure to thrive
- Liver disease
Palliative Care Team
Through a team effort, the patient and family are supported through quality-of-life decisions. The Palliative Care team at ValleyCare consists of a physician, a social worker, a clinical pharmacist, a dietitian, a physical therapist, a respiratory therapist, and registered nurses. These professionals work closely with a patient's physician to provide the best care possible.
Palliative Care Program Services
Managing difficult symptoms
Pain management for complex cases is available, as well as care to alleviate other symptoms that may accompany serious illness or side effects of treatment.
Education and support
Important aspects of the program are education and support. Information about the disease process, how it affects the different systems of the body and options available as the disease progresses is provided to patients and their families. Instructions about caring for a loved one at home and assistance with determining the benefits and burdens of treatment, medications and tests are also offered. Support is given to assist with the emotional, social and spiritual suffering that patients and family may experience.
Palliative Care vs. End-of-Life Care
Palliative care criteria:
- A life-limiting illness that is chronic, progressive and incurable
- Usually involves multiple organs/systems
- May be in the condition for a long period of time
- Patient and family receive support from the palliative care team while making quality-of-life decisions
- Goal is to improve patient's quality of life through palliative care
Comfort care—End of life care:
- Patient/family desires illness to take natural course
- Patient receives measures to ensure comfort to the end of life
- Patient/family refuse Hospice
- If appropriate, patient will be transferred to a skilled nursing facility
Hospice—End of life care:
- Support includes physical, emotional and spiritual care for the patient and family provided
by Hospice staff
- Care is provided in the patient's residence
- Patient may be hospitalized when pain is out of control or respite care is needed
- Support continues for family after death