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    • What Is Palliative Care?
      August 8, 2013

      Palliative care involves input from many different specialists and care providers, aimed at relieving suffering and improving quality of life, optimizing function and assisting with decision making for patients with advanced illness and their families.

      Palliative care is not the same thing as:

      • hospice care
      • comfort care
      • withholding curative care from which patients could benefit

      Palliative care can be beneficial to patients who:

      • are experiencing chronic, progressive pulmonary disorders and are undergoing pulmonary care
      • have kidney (renal) disease, heart failure and progressive neurological conditions
      • have cancer
      • have recurrent infections
      • have non-healing wounds/ are receiving wound care
      • have a history of recurrent hospitalizations
      • have psychosocial, emotional or spiritual distress
      • need coordination of care

      Palliative care can be very beneficial to a large and diverse population of patients. It can reduce high levels of suffering and distress among patients with serious illness, at any age and any stage of disease. It addresses the needs of family caregivers as they cope with and care for a loved one with serious illness. In many cases, it reduces unwanted, unnecessary and painful interventions.

      Some people confuse palliative care with hospice care. They are not the same. Palliative care is for patients with chronic illness, where hospice care is for patients with terminal illness. Patients can continue to receive curative treatments while they are receiving palliative care, while hospice patients have typically chosen to forgo curative treatments. The two are similar in that they are both interdisciplinary – involving collaboration between many medical specialists and therapists – and both are patient and family focused, with an emphasis on communication, symptom management and improved quality of life.

      How Kindred Can Help

      Kindred Transitional Care Hospitals, certified by Medicare as long-term acute care hospitals and licensed as acute care hospitals, can provide support for patients needing palliative care, including:

      • 24-hour nursing care
      • psychological and spiritual care, developing a support system to help the patient live as actively as possible
      • help navigating the healthcare system, including putting together an advance directive
      • pain control
      • a comfortable, calming environment
      • an emphasis on personal choice and privacy

      Services at the LTAC Hospital are coordinated with patients’ community doctors so that continuity of care is facilitated even after the patient leaves the hospital. These important services help patients remain comfortable, relieving pain and suffering and improving quality of life. Connections to family and friends are stressed, and we help our patients maintain as much independence as possible.

      For more information about palliative care, or about hospice care, visit the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization at http://www.nhpco.org/

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