What is Palliative Care?
Palliative care, sometimes called supportive care, is the specialized medical, emotional, and spiritual care for patients with life-threatening illnesses that focuses on improving the quality of life for the patient and the patient’s family. Palliative care is available for patients of all ages, in any stage of a life-shortening or life-threatening illness.
Bassett Healthcare Network’s palliative care specialists assist in transitions of care for patients when living at home is no longer possible. Palliative care can take place in the hospital, clinic building, or in a nursing home, such as the A.O. Fox Nursing Home and Valley Health Services.
Goals of Palliative Care
Palliative care is highly individualized, as every patient’s values, medical condition, circumstances, and experience of illness is different. The goals of palliative care include:
Bassett Healthcare Network’s palliative care team listens and speaks to each patient to understand how to treat causes of suffering, including physical and mental pain management, spiritual anxieties, and learning to live fully while accepting their illness. We discuss what trade-offs the patient is willing to make to live the way they want, and help align healthcare plans with each patient’s goals and values. We also discuss how much treatment a patient is willing to undergo.
We provide supportive care that focuses on alleviating pain and specific illness-related symptom management, such as shortness of breath, anxiety, fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, constipation, and diarrhea.
Learning what is important to each patient and what they understand about their illness allows us to help develop care plans that align with our patient’s goals, and allows our patients to more fully understand their options.
This includes navigating change, such as moving from home care to an assisted living facility, or moving from inpatient treatment to hospice care at home. More broadly, we discuss what is next. We discuss our patient’s fears, and help them come to accept and learn to live fully with their illness. We organize meetings with the patient’s family or close friends and the medical teams (such as heart care or cancer care) to ensure that everyone has the same understanding of options at each stage of a condition or illness.
An advanced directive is a legal document that states a patient’s wishes for medical treatment if the patient is unable to communicate with their doctor. This often includes selecting a trusted person, your health care agent, to make medical decisions if you are unable to. Advance care planning documents can include a health care proxy, 5 Wishes, or a MOLST form (Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment).
Bassett Healthcare Network’s palliative care team provides care for patients with life-limiting or life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, COPD, end stage liver and kidney disease, congestive heart failure, stroke, and dementia.
Patients who receive palliative care may live longer, happier, and are more likely to elect hospice services earlier, which allows care providers to more successfully manage symptoms.
Difference Between Hospice Care & Palliative Care
Hospice care is meant specifically for patients who are approaching the final stages of life, with life expectancy of less than 6 months. Palliative care is appropriate for all stages of an illness and is meant to help patients and their families through difficulties associated with medical treatment.
We coordinate closely with local hospice care centers, including:
- Helios Care (formerly Catskill Area Hospice & Palliative Care)
- Hospice and Palliative Care of Oneida County
- Mountain Valley Hospice and Palliative Care
- Hospice and Palliative Care of Chenango County
Get a Referral from Your Hospital Physician, Oncologist, or Primary Care Practitioner
If you think you or a loved one can benefit from palliative care, please ask your practitioner to refer you.
Bassett Healthcare Network delivers compassionate palliative care services in Cooperstown, Oneonta, and Herkimer, NY.