The Role of Palliative Care within Continuum of Care
Tuesday, August 28, 2018 | Joe Nester
A person who receives a diagnosis of a chronic disease or life-limiting illness often experiences profound insights about their own mortality. When utilizing Palliative Care as a continuum, the counseling component gives patients and caregivers an opportunity to make informed treatment decisions. It also allows for intimate in-depth discussions with providers about disease progressions. These evolving conversations can and often do reveal a patient’s real goals and desires for their life.
The Palliative care team consists of specialists who coordinate treatment with other doctors based on the desires of the patient and family. This process gives patients a higher level of control over their care and through consultation, they are able to make choices which best match their life goals.
J. Donald Schumacher, President and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHCPO) stated, “I have always felt that when a patient is first diagnosed, some of the services that hospice has been providing for 40 years are even more important and more necessary—specifically the counseling support and the opportunity to help those we care for make more effective decisions about treatment, options and choices.”
In 2014 Agapé Primary Care/ LTC Health Solutions pioneered its first palliative care program in collaboration with Trident Health Systems of Charleston. A team of Agapé medical professionals worked side by side with hospital staff to offer palliative services on an in-patient basis. The problem then became, how to follow those same patients after discharge. In 2016 Agapé began offering palliative care as an out-patient service through one of its primary care clinics. In addition to the clinic, services were extended into the patient’s home. Agapé now provides palliative care services throughout the state of South Carolina.