Palliative Care refers to care for Clients and their families who are facing serious, life-limiting illness. The word “palliate” stems from the late Middle English term palliat, which means to cloak, to protect.
It is much more than a description of end-of-life or terminal-stage care, it is a means to reduce stress and pain, relieve suffering, and to provide comfort to those who need it most, regardless of the person’s stage of an illness.
Palliative Care focuses on exploring the physical and psychological impact an illness has on those with a life-limiting and serious illness, and it is often provided in addition to other medical treatments that focus on the illness itself.
Accessing these services is not synonymous with death, and it is not mutually exclusive from other disease modifying therapies or treatments.
Rather, the purpose of Palliative Care is to complement other treatments and help Clients manage their symptoms, cope with their illness, and most importantly improve their overall quality of life.
If you are concerned about the quality of life for your loved one as they experience treatment for a serious illness, our at-home services may be appropriate to help alleviate pain and bestow emotional support.
Private palliative home health care services in your home work best when it is coordinated and supervised. Integracare Personal Support Workers (PSWs) are deeply educated in this type of care and receive regular on-site supervision from Registered Nursing Staff.
Our Registered Nursing Coordinators work with Caregivers to make sure our Clients’ needs are always met, and ensure that our Clients receive compassionate person-to-person treatment.
At Integracare, we inform our Clients and their families with exactly what to expect with in-home Palliative Care.
Palliative Care is still widely misunderstood, and it is important to clarify some common myths.
Myth 1: Palliative Care Accelerates Death
Palliative Care does not hasten death by any means. In fact, it gives patients comfort and the best quality of life from diagnosis of an advanced illness until the end of their life.
It provides an added layer of support for people with serious illness and for their families through physical, psychological, and social care.
A support system of Personal Support Workers (PSWs), Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs), therapists, massage therapists, and more, are integrated into your loved one’s care plan to help them feel confident, content, and supported in every way possible.
Myth 2: Palliative Care is Specifically for People with Cancer
Palliative Care benefits those who experience any illness that may be life-threatening, and it is not limited to Cancer.
Our experts at Integracare recommend you consider in-home Palliative Care to help relieve pain and stress if you are suffering from the following illnesses:
- Alzheimer’s and dementia-related illnesses
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Congestive Heart Failure
- ALS and Lou Gehrig’s disease
This list is not exhaustive, and Palliative Care is available to anyone experiencing any serious life-threatening illness.
Myth 3: Palliative Care is Only Accessible in a Hospital
Palliative Care can be provided wherever the Client lives – in the home, a long-term facility, or a hospital.
Integracare Clients enjoy the comforts, safety and dignity of their chosen residence when they receive our services and primary treatment for their illness.
Integracare also offers at-home services such as Massage Therapy, which can help ease physical and emotional stressors due to chronic illness.
Massage Therapy can be used effectively alongside Palliative Care as it alleviates symptoms of serious illnesses such as pain and muscle tension, as well as anxiety and depression.
Our professional Registered Massage Therapists (RMTs) can also customize their techniques to benefit Clients’ specific needs, and to suit the Client’s current state of health.
Myth 4: Pain is always Part of Dying
Pain is not a necessary part of dying.
The goal of Palliative Care is to provide comfort and to improve the quality of life to those with life-limiting illnesses, and if pain is experienced near the end of a patient’s life, there are ways it can be reduced.
Our Integracare Caregivers and Registered Nursing Coordinators provide pain and symptom management to improve the comfort and quality of life of our Clients, and we work with your loved one’s Doctors to ensure that they receive the best medical treatment at home with pain management techniques.
Pain management includes:
- Gentle exercise
- Massage therapy
- Other techniques recommended by your loved one’s Doctor or medical professional
Patients are also often given monitored pain medication drug plans that can reduce discomfort from the symptoms of a serious illness or treatments such as chemotherapy.
Myth 5: Taking Pain Medications in Palliative Care will lead to Addiction
In order to keep those undergoing treatment comfortable, increased doses of pain medication are often required. This is a result of tolerance to medication as the body adjusts, and it is not a sign of addiction.
Our expertly trained Caregivers monitor Clients’ medications very closely by working with Registered Nursing Staff and your loved one’s professional medical health team.
Medications such as fentanyl or oxycodone can be safe and effective for those undergoing Palliative Care if prescribed appropriately for symptoms such as shortness of breath and debilitating pain.
Myth 6: Morphine is used to Quicken Death
Administering morphine does not hasten death; it is a tool to help those with painful symptoms relax and it lessens debilitating discomfort.
Palliative Care is meant to relieve pain symptoms for suffering patients. Often, appropriate doses of morphine can be very helpful in pain reduction for Palliative Clients.
Myth 7: There is no hope left with Palliative Care
Palliative Care maintains the best quality of life for those who have been diagnosed with a serious or life-limiting illness.
Hope becomes more about living one’s remaining life as fully as possible in the moment, and it becomes less about healing or finding a cure.
One of the objectives of Palliative Care is for the Clients to feel safe and at peace when they receive emotional and physical support from our Integracare Caregivers.
Myth 8: Palliative Care starts when No Further Active Treatment is Available
Palliative Care is active care. Palliative Care works with other treatments to treat symptoms using different medications and approaches and provides psychological and social support.
Palliative Care is an important aspect of treating a life-threatening condition or serious illness, and there is nothing inactive about it. It exists to prolong the quality of life in patients and with family members, and it is a positive approach to reduce suffering.
Learn about the Integracare difference and how our Clients receive primary treatment for their illness in the privacy of their own home.
The idea of Palliative Care might seem daunting, but it should not be feared. Its philosophy is to affirm life, and to regard death as a normal process of life.
Palliative Care does not intend to hasten or postpone death, but rather intends to bring a compassionate approach and to integrate physical, psychological, and spiritual aspects of a Client’s well-being into medical treatments to provide relief from pain and other distressing symptoms.
Click here to learn more about Integracare’s In-Home Palliative Care.