What Is Palliative Care? - Constellation HS
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What is Palliative Care?

Understanding Palliative Care as Part of the Care Continuum

“We cannot change the outcome, but we can affect the journey.” 

—Ann Richardson 

Palliative care is a specialized form of health care that supports the needs of people facing progressive illness. 

However, palliative care is often misunderstood. A recent study discovered that 89% of respondents had little to no knowledge of palliative care, let alone its myriad benefits. 

For those living with chronic pain, disease, or other challenging conditions, palliative care is a relatively new field of medicine that addresses pain management as part of an overall treatment plan. Applications of palliative care are broad and allow integrations into other care practices including home health. Ultimately, palliative care aims to improve quality of life through various pain management techniques catered to the unique needs of the individual receiving care. Below, we break down elements of palliative care and how Constellation puts it into practice.    

Part 1: Palliative Care Essentials

What is Palliative Care?

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 40 million people need palliative care each year. 

Palliative care supports those who are currently living with a serious illness. The goal of palliative care is to focus on pain relief, improving the lives of individuals living with serious illness or chronic disease. Individuals can choose to continue receiving curative treatment while on palliative care. Though palliative care is NOT hospice care, all hospice care is palliative care.

Who Benefits from Palliative Care?

Palliative care is a customized approach to pain management that considers the holistic environment in which the individual resides. As such, it directly benefits the individual receiving care, as well as family and loved ones who may also receive emotional support and resources for better understanding, processing, and managing their loved one’s illness. 

Where is Palliative Care Provided?

Palliative care is provided to patients across many settings––hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient palliative care clinics, assisted living communities, and homes. Once palliative care has started––at any stage in the journey––palliative care providers meet with the patient and family members to establish their goals for care. 

Who Provides Palliative Care?

Palliative care is an approach to care administered by trained professionals ranging from doctors, primary care physicians, and nurses to occupational and physical therapists, dieticians, social workers, and more. At Constellation, palliative care is offered through the home health and hospice service lines. Care professionals work closely with individuals, families, and other providers to deliver expert-level care during every part of the journey. 

How is the Cost of Palliative Care Covered?

Palliative care is covered by most insurance programs including Medicare, Medicaid, as well as private insurance. If you are unsure whether your plan covers palliative services, contact Constellation to discuss your options. 

Below, we discuss Constellation Health Service’s philosophy and approach to palliative care. Our goal is to educate and provide insights for those seeking palliative services for themselves or their loved ones. 

Part 2: Constellation’s Complete Care Solution for Palliative Care

According to the WHO, the global need for palliative care will continue to grow due to aging populations, the rising burden of non-communicable diseases, and some infectious diseases––this is where the philosophy of treatment comes into play. 

Hospice care and palliative care are often perceived as one and the same. When it comes to understanding the difference between the two types of care, it is important to recognize the major differentiator––philosophy of treatment. 

“The big difference between palliative and hospice is the philosophy of treatment,” says Deborah Moeller, Constellation’s Director of Hospice and Palliative Care in Connecticut. “This is where it can get confusing because hospice is a palliative treatment, meaning both can provide comfort measures. However, palliative care can include aggressive, curative treatments. 

“For example, say a person is receiving chemotherapy for cancer, this person would be in the palliative care program because they’re still getting some type of treatment,” Moeller says. “If they choose to stop that treatment, they would most likely come on to hospice. At that point, we are focusing on the comfort aspect.” 

Constellation connects highly skilled professionals offering personalized health services with innovative technology solutions to better serve those living with illness. A Complete Care Solution for Palliative Care includes:

  • Expert pain and symptom management
  • Skilled nursing care, medical social workers, and home health aides
  • Interdisciplinary approach to care among Constellation’s palliative and hospice teams
  • Coordinated care and strong communication with physicians, caregivers, and families
  • Palliative and therapy consultations
  • Guidance and preparation necessary for advanced care planning
  • Access to Nurse Practitioners for advanced levels of care
  • Aligned community outreach and services such as medication or grocery delivery
  • Regularly scheduled visits with our care team

Palliative Home Health Care and Hospice Working Together

When the time is right, Constellation’s palliative home health and hospice care teams work collaboratively to provide patients and their families the peace of mind that comes from a comfortable, seamless, and meaningful transition from palliative home health to hospice services.

Often individuals transition across the care continuum. Moeller recalls an example of a patient who transitioned from certified home health to palliative home health to hospice. Constellation was with him every step of the way, educating him and his family, offering options, and providing pain relief, comfort, and compassion. Moeller explained: 

“We had an individual who started as a traditional certified health patient with cardiac disease. He opted for palliative care as he still wanted to try an aggressive treatment for his cardiac disease. We assigned him an APRN under the palliative home health benefit to monitor his health through telehealth visits. Still, at a point in time, he wasn’t responding to the aggressive cardiac medication anymore. My liaison went back out to talk to him and offer more options. He decided to sign a DNR and transition to hospice. Our team was with him until the day he passed away.”  

This level of commitment and connection to every individual ensures the highest level of clinical care. Combined with integrated palliative services and a complete care approach, individuals receive quality, comfort, and compassion throughout their journey.

The palliative care process may be challenging to understand and navigate. Having a knowledgeable and compassionate team guiding you or your family through the journey can make all of the difference. 

Learn more about Constellation’s home-based care services here

Related Articles:

What is Certified Home Health?

What is Hospice Care?

Contributions of Social Workers in Home Health and Hospice 

Case Study: Home Health Patient Transitions to Hospice Care

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Constellation’s Complete Care at Home approach takes patients through the care continuum utilizing human connection and technology to provide the best patient care. We are there throughout the journey. Constellation is a family-owned, family-centered organization that has remained true to our commitment to providing the best patient experience and the highest quality outcomes. We believe this is accomplished by ensuring that everyone we connect with feels valued, trusted, and heard. Learn how we can help you. 

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