Eight Palliative Care Facts Every Nurse Should Know
As a registered nurse or a nurse earning a nursing degree, you may be familiar with the term palliative care but less familiar with what it is. With a growing number of hospitals offering palliative care services,1 it’s a good time to learn more about this life-enhancing form of patient care.
Here are eight frequently asked questions about palliative care, to help get you started:
What Is Palliative Care?
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) offers this definition: “Palliative care focuses on easing pain and discomfort, reducing stress, and helping people have the highest quality of life possible. It is appropriate at any age and any stage of a serious illness, not just end-of-life. It is an ‘extra layer of support’—treating the symptoms of an illness and supporting the entire family.”2
That definition highlights an important distinction between palliative and hospice care. Hearing the care options used together, some people think the terms are synonymous, but they’re not. Both models seek to enhance a person’s quality of life, but hospice care is for people who no longer are receiving curative treatments and are in the final stages of a terminal illness.
What Is Considered a Serious Illness?
Serious illnesses may include Parkinson’s disease, heart failure, chronic obstructive lung disease, cancer, dementia, and chronic kidney disease,2 for example.
“A serious illness may be defined as a disease or condition with a high risk of death or one that negatively affects a person’s quality of life or ability to perform daily tasks,” according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA).3
What Services Does Palliative Care Offer?
Palliative care provides services aligned with each client’s needs. The NIA says a care team may include specialist nurses and doctors, social workers, religious or spiritual leaders, therapists, nutritionists, and others.3
NHPCO offers this list of the kind of services a palliative care team might provide:2
- Pain and symptom management
- Care coordination with physicians and other healthcare professionals
- Help developing a care plan
- Assistance with insurance forms, advance directives, and portable medical orders (POLSTs)
- Spiritual care, for clients who request it
What Is Palliative Care Nursing?
Nurses are key palliative care team members. In many cases, they are the healthcare professionals who first recognize a patient’s need for palliative care.4
Palliative care nursing draws on three key nursing competencies: symptom management, communication, and advocacy.4 That means there are opportunities for all kinds of nurses, experts say, calling for more palliative care nursing training to meet the demand for services.4
“Nurses in all settings and at all levels of practice are well-positioned to use their skills and position to collaborate interprofessionally to provide palliative care,” write the authors of “Nursing’s Role in Leading Palliative Care: A Call to Action,” published in Nurse Education Today.4
Is Palliative Care for Children?
Palliative care is for people across the lifespan. Patients can be as young as neonates,5 and receive palliative services that are age appropriate. “As anyone who works in pediatrics knows, children are not simply little adults,” the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) explains on its website.6 A child’s palliative care team may include a play therapist or child behavioral specialist, for example.6
Does Insurance Cover Palliative Care?
Private insurance plans, Medicare, and Medicaid usually cover at least a portion of a patient’s medical costs.2 The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs covers palliative care for eligible veterans receiving healthcare benefits.7
Palliative care team members often help patients find out which services their insurance plans may cover.
Where Do Patients Receive Care?
In addition to receiving palliative care in hospitals, people can also receive services in their homes or in nursing homes and outpatient clinics.3
Is Palliative Care Worthwhile?
The NIA says studies show it is: “These studies show that those enrolled in palliative care have fewer symptoms, greater emotional support, and increased patient and family satisfaction.”3
Make a Difference With a Nursing Degree
There are many career paths in nursing, and Walden University’s online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program offers specializations that let you tailor your studies to your career goals.
If you want to provide direct patient care, you may choose one of Walden’s five nurse practitioner specializations: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP), Family Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) Primary Care, and Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP).
Walden’s online MSN degree program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), an autonomous accrediting agency that ensures the quality and integrity of nursing programs. Quality is embedded in Walden’s online MSN degree program—from expert faculty to contemporary curriculum to cutting-edge virtual learning experiences.
Plus, Walden’s student-friendly online learning platform makes it possible for you to earn a degree while balancing your personal and professional responsibilities.
With the knowledge you’ll acquire in Walden’s accredited master’s program, you’ll be ready to make your mark as a nursing professional improving quality of life in direct and indirect ways.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) online degree program. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
1Source : www.capc.org/blog/capc-releases-its-growth-of-palliative-care-in-us-hospitals-2022-snapshot/
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.
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