Palliative care awareness
November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month.
Balintfy: The field of palliative care has experienced substantial growth and development over the past 12 years, but experts point out that many misconceptions still surround palliative care.
Grady: Palliative care is care thatís directed toward addressing symptoms related to chronic illness or other areas of discomfort. So it is really symptom management.
Balintfy: Dr. Patricia Grady is the director of the NIHís National Institute of Nursing Research. She says one misconception is that palliative care is only for the older population.
Grady: There are other conditions of childhood and middle adulthood where palliative care may be appropriate depending on what the symptoms are the person is experiencing.
Balintfy: Dr. Grady explains that receiving palliative care does not mean the patient is dying, as with hospice care.
Grady: It is not the same as hospice care, although they can intersect. Palliative care can take place in a hospice and does, but palliative care addresses a broader range of care conditions and sites of care.
Balintfy: Researchers report that the number of U.S. hospitals with a palliative care team has increased more than 148 percent between 2000 and 2012. Now about 66 percent or two thirds of hospitals have palliative care. In larger hospitals, those with 300 beds or more, the increase is even higher, with 87 percent offering palliative care. In addition, all VA or Veterans Health Administration hospitals now have a palliative care program.
Grady: So it does occur in hospital situations as well as in extended care and even in the home.
Balintfy: Dr. Grady emphasizes that palliative care is comprehensive treatment of discomfort, symptoms, and stress of serious illnesses. It does not replace primary treatment, rather works together with that treatment.
Grady: Most people report that they feel that they benefited from palliative care and patients in general report that but also family members and friends do. Because when palliative care is available, the symptoms of pain or distress are usually reduced so that patients are able to enjoy better quality of life but also better able to participate in treatment decisions and better able to communicate with their family members and loved ones.
Balintfy: Dr. Grady also points out that palliative care is not expensive. In fact, many palliative care services are commonly covered by insurers, including Medicare and Medicaid. For more information on palliative care, and to receive a free brochure, visit www.ninr.nih.gov. And to hear more from Dr. Grady about palliative care, listen to episode 171 of the NIH Research Radio podcast. For NIH Radio, this is Joe Balintfy – NIH... Turning Discovery Into Health®.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Joe Balintfy
Sound Bite: Dr. Patricia Grady
Topic: palliative care, palliative, hospital, hospice, chronic illness, symptoms, pain, distress, discomfort, quality of life