Soccer announcers are well known for shouting “GOAL!” for as long as they can express air when seeing a successful shot on the net. American football, baseball, and basketball announcers are hardly any different. Announcers offer quick-talking play overviews with growing excitement, and then, upon a successful touchdown, run, or basket, lead crowds on the field and at home in yelling about their victory joy. The only exception is perhaps hockey, which replaces the goal announcer with a loud buzzer while the arena crowd yells with glee.
On the whole, success is measured by an individual’s or team’s ability to get a ball one one specific place to another. Winning and losing is, on the whole, clearly defined, with a successful win accompanied by throngs of loudly expressed joy.
Success in palliative care, however, is not defined in quite the same way as a sporting event. “Winning” and even “losing” take on a different character on the palliative care field. In fact, perhaps the closest analogy to a successful course of palliative care treatment may look more like a play from the losing team being interviewed, expressing a sense of deep satisfaction at the way he or she played the game, feeling able to walk off the field after having played well with teammates and ready for a good meal and night of sleep.
The Goal of Palliative Care – Alleviating Suffering
The major goal of palliative care is to alleviate suffering, in all forms, so that patients can live richly and comfortably due to minimized pain. It focuses on enhancing the overall quality of life for patients suffering from chronic or life-limiting diseases.
A medical diagnosis of illness usually results in a treatment plan or overview of what kinds of medications and procedures may help to cure the illness in the long term or diminish symptoms of the problem in the short term. For instance, a cancer diagnosis likely results in a treatment plan that includes chemotherapy, or cancer-killing medications that can cause a range of unpleasant side effects, including but not limited to nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, and joint pain.
Whether chemotherapy is directed as a curative effort or management plan in the case of terminal illness, palliative care is designed to help patients manage the discomfort and suffering that treatment often brings. In this way, palliative care is not always inextricably linked with hospice care, in that palliative care focuses on pain management—whether that is pain management for those who are expected to live, or for those who face a terminal diagnosis.
Origins of the Term “Palliative”
The term,”palliative,” finds its roots in the Latin term for cloak, or, in modern terms, something like a heavy winter coat that covers the body as a shield from inclement weather. The purpose of palliative care is to “put a cloak/coat on,” or diminish any uncomfortable symptoms so patients can live as comfortably as possible. Palliative care works in conjunction with any medical specialist to ensure that all medications and procedure options work in concert with other plans for care.
Ultimately, palliative care is not meant to be curative care, but instead it is comfort care that works in conjunction with primary care providers and specialists for the benefit of patients. Comfort care can create an environment of well-being which promotes cure, but in itself is not a cure. For those who have not received a terminal diagnosis, palliative care often encourages a faster recovery from illness and injury than those who suffer effects without palliative care.
Hospice Care is a Type of Palliative Care
Palliative care can be accessed by anyone who may suffer from ongoing pain, regardless of long-term recovery prognosis or outcomes. However, hospice care is explicitly designed for patients whose physician(s) have communicated that they likely have six months or less of life remaining. It is an admittedly difficult situation for anyone to realize that they or their loved ones need to consider palliative and hospice care.
Most of the time the public hears about about palliative care in close connection with hospice care. Yet, palliative care ultimately stands on its own, should patients need the service to manage the effects of any difficult diagnosis or injury. Palliative care providers will ensure medication and treatment plans provide immediate relief to suffering but also keep an eye toward long term effects, benefits, and overall recovery.
Contact Harbor Light Hospice Today!
For more information about the benefits of palliative care for patients – please contact Harbor Light Hospice by giving us a call or sending us a message online for a free and confidential consultation. We are ready to discuss any questions you may have over the usages of hospice and palliative care and if you or a loved one would require these services.