Palliative Care: What Is It? – An Embracing Life Session

Written by Panorama staff. May 2016

This Embracing Life session was facilitated by Julie Ostling, RN & BSN of Assured Embracing LifeHospice. Many people hear about hospice care, but what is palliative care? Julie had the answers, but first, she wanted to hear from the audience. She started off by asking the audience what questions they had to ensure she covered them during her presentations. Some questions or topics were:

  • Palliative care at Panorama
  • Palliative care vs. hospice care
  • Different types of palliative care that are available

Julie supplied the audience with a packet of information, all of which she covered during her presentation. She initiated it by stating that palliative care is a relatively new concept and is available locally. Palliative care is meant to help relieve suffering and improve quality of life for people at any stage in a serious illness, whether that illness is curable, chronic or life-threatening. Palliative care focuses on comfort and management of symptoms, including physical, emotional and spiritual symptoms. But how is hospice care different? While palliative care helps people at any stage of a disease, hospice care is a specific type of palliative care for people who likely have 6 months of less to live. Julie emphasized this particular statement: “Hospice care is palliative, but not all palliative care is hospice care.”

Another part of palliative care is that it helps increase comfort for the patient and the family by lessening pain and stress and controlling symptoms. When it comes to different types or forms of palliative care, Julie states that every form of palliative care is different, depending on the illness, person and/or situation. There is no specific type or form of care.

There are many forms of palliative care in the community. Ten years ago, St. Peter’s Hospital started an in-patient palliative care that consists of MD’s, ARNP’s, RN’s and Social Service support. There is also outpatient palliative care at Group Health Clinic & Providence Community Palliative Care. Home setting palliative care is possible, but an individual must meet Home Health criteria for homebound status. As far as palliative care at Panorama, depending on your situation, you can seek palliative care from the many sources in the community.

Julie’s presentation was informative and resourceful. She referred the audience to multiple sources that can provide a form of palliative care or offer information. After her presentation, the audience discussed the “Death with Dignity” law and how palliative care is being used more often.

Going hand-in-hand with the “Embracing Life” theme, palliative care is a wonderful choice for people who need help with physical, psychological, social or spiritual distress as a result of illness treatment. Seek out the sources in your community and have the conversation with your physician. You’ll never know what is out there unless you look or ask!

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