Palliative Care is not a new concept, but has recently become more defined and standardized. The definition of Palliative Care is to provide multi-disciplinary care to patients giving relief to physical, mental, psychosocial and spiritual symptoms. It is something that most providers try to accomplish for their patients, with or without specialized training. It is every provider’s goal to give patients with acute or chronic conditions relief of their symptoms. Palliative care specialists focus on this concept and attempt to give their patients what they need to live well.
Palliative care is not end of life care or Hospice; it is holistic care that allows people in pain or with other ailments to live as well as they can for as long as they can. Pain has often been a primary focus of palliative care with cancer pain being one of the main types of pain addressed, but true palliative care is much broader than this. With pain or other chronic illnesses come mental, emotional and financial stressors. The holistic approach of palliative care attempts to help patients deal with these stressors by enlisting the help of a multi-disciplinary team. A typical palliative care team consists of a physician/Nurse Practitioner/Physician’s Assistant, nurse, psychologist, nutritionist, social worker, physical therapist and a spiritual counselor.
A palliative care consult starts with an in depth interview with the patient addressing physical ailments, psychosocial concerns, spiritual beliefs and goals of what the patient needs in order to live the best they can. From there, a plan of care with recommendations and referrals is made to help the patient achieve their goals. Within the conversation of goals, Advance Directives are typically addressed, as this is an integral part of ensuring the patient receives the care they want and nothing they do not want. The topic or definition of hospice may also be discussed if the patient is at that point in the disease process or just has questions about it. Palliative care is truly a team-based approach to care that includes the patient, family and interdisciplinary team focusing on patient-centered goals of living the best life possible.
Cathey Bervid graduated with honors as a nurse practitioner from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2008 and was named Tahoe Forest Hospital’s “Nurse of the Year” that same year. She’s lived in the North Tahoe/Truckee Area for 30 years and loves the mountains and outdoor life. “Caring for our patients is what makes my job rewarding. When I go home at night, I want to know that I have done everything I can for everyone I have seen that day,” says Cathey.