Palliative care, sometimes referred to as “comfort care,” is a specialized approach to the treatment of patients with a serious or life-threatening illness. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization has released a new video to help the public understand more about palliative care and the many benefits it can provide. In the video, Michael Sampair talks about his experience with palliative care and being treated by the palliative care medical team at The Elizabeth Hospice in San Diego, California.
The goal of palliative care is to provide relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of serious illness. It is also designed to improve the quality of life of both the patient and the patient’s family caregivers. What sets palliative care apart from hospice is that patients can continue to receive aggressive and curative-focused treatment like chemotherapy, radiation, dialysis and surgery while receiving palliative care. Palliative care brings another layer of support that often is missing in conventional medical care delivery.
Michael began receiving palliative care when the symptoms from his stage four cancer diagnosis became unmanageable. George Delgado, MD, FAAFP, HMDC, and Chief Medical Officer at The Elizabeth Hospice worked with Michael to get his pain under control and manage his other symptoms which included insomnia and nausea.
“When patients don’t have pain under control, it’s hard for them to really enjoy life and to live life to the fullest and he was really finding he had a lot of life still to live but he wasn’t able to enjoy it or to be fulfilled because of the pain,” says Delgado.
Michael’s quality of life improved with proper symptom management and emotional support and he was able to make a trip to Minneapolis to see his family.
In the video, Michael explains that palliative care has helped in many ways. It allowed him to receive care at home versus traveling to the doctor. “People like me, we don’t want to be in doctor’s offices and hospitals,” he says. “So when they come and they visit you at home, that’s special. That’s unexpected.
“The philosophy of palliative care is the same as with hospice –patient-centered care that addresses the medical, psycho-social and spiritual needs of the person and family caregivers,” says NHPCO President and CEO Edo Banach. “Many hospice programs across the country have implemented community-based palliative care programs into the services they offer.”