In the health care setting, things move quickly and focus on delivering the best treatments for specific conditions. This may not translate to the best treatments for an individual.
As a patient, you may have different goals of care than the emergency doctors do. This is why it is important to document and let others know (children, spouses, caregivers) what your goals are so that in an emergency, you are more likely to get the care you desire. Also, there will be no uncertainty or guilt on the part of your loved ones if asked to speak on your behalf.
If you have heart disease, you can benefit from sharing your goals of care with your advocates. With clear goals, your chances of getting the care you value goes up. To start planning, identify the things which are most important to you.
Palliative care is a philosophy of care that focuses on symptoms, such as pain or shortness of breath, to improve quality of life. It is given along with care that aims to lengthen life.
Palliative care might include medications or treatments, or it might focus on talking with you and your family to understand goals of care, answer questions and help make health decisions.
Any doctor, nurse, or other member of the health care team can provide palliative care. Sometimes, you may see a health professional who specializes in palliative care in addition to your usual doctor or at the same time.
Hospice care is an insurance benefit covering therapies that maintain or improve quality of life for a patient with a disease that will not be cured.
Patients can be on hospice care if they are expected to live less than six months. This assessment must be repeated every six months. Patients are either certified again or taken off hospice care if their condition improves.
Hospice can be started in many settings depending on severity of illness, degree of family support, money concerns, and what the patient prefers.
The team includes physicians, nurses, social workers, home health aides, spiritual advisers, therapists (physical, occupational, and speech), dietitians, and volunteers to help ensure a patient is comfortable and prepared for the end of life, striving to achieve a “good death.”