Advances in medicine and technology have allowed people to live longer with chronic and often painful, disabling conditions. Recognizing the need for a formalized program to address the comfort needs of these individuals, the Aurora Visiting Nurse Association of Wisconsin has established a Palliative Care program.
What is palliative care?
The goal of palliative care is to provide the best quality of life for the critically or chronically ill by ensuring their comfort and dignity. Palliative care is not disease or age-specific and can benefit any patient with an advanced disease or life-limiting illness.
Some examples include cancer, advanced heart, lung and kidney disease, AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, and multiple sclerosis. Palliative care is focused on relief of pain and other symptoms while addressing the psychological, social, cultural, emotional and spiritual needs of the ill person and their family.
We recognize that people living with serious illness, need expert symptom management, as well as spiritual and emotional support.
Who provides palliative care?
The palliative care team is determined by the needs of the patient and his/her family. It often includes nurses and a physician with specialized palliative care skills, the family physician, social worker, spiritual care counselor and a pharmacist. Other health professionals may be added to the team as needed such as therapists, dietitians and home support workers.
What can I expect from palliative care?
- Relief from distressing symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, and difficulty sleeping
- Improved ability to carry on with your daily life
- Better understanding of your condition and your choices for medical care
Where is palliative care provided?
Palliative care can be provided in virtually any living environment including hospitals, assisted living facilities, and most commonly in the patient's home.
When is the right time for palliative care?
Palliative care helps through all stages of advanced illness and is appropriate for patients of all ages including infants and children.
Is palliative care the same as hospice care?
No. While hospice care is also focused on the comfort and support of the patient and family, it is meant specifically for those with a life expectancy of 6 months or less. Palliative care is appropriate for any stage of a serious illness where life-extending treatment is still desired or is still an option.
How is palliative care paid for?
Palliative care is funded by Medicare or Medicaid but there are specific requirements the patient must meet. People may also have coverage through private insurance or can choose to privately pay for the services.
The Aurora VNA's Palliative Care team can provide assistance with financial concerns and serve as a resource for funding options.
How can I find out if palliative care is an option for me?
You should discuss this option with your physician, as a doctor order is required to begin services. If you are interested in finding out more about the Palliative Care program, you can request a consult by calling 800-862-2201.