Program Notes: June, 2024

Last updated on July 14, 2024.

June 2024: Planning for the Future – Palliative and Hospice
Janet Smith, RN, with Community Palliative Care of Northern New Mexico, will be discussing Palliative and Hospice Care. Karen St. Clair will lead the discussion. Background materials will be posted to the Program Notes. Remember, you must be a subscriber to our newsletter to get the Zoom link. Subscribe Now!

Janet has shared the following background materials:

The following article is also useful; it’s from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

Notes (from Peggy and Melissa)

Palliative (or “supportive”) care has been shown to improve the quality of life for patients and families facing serious, chronic, or terminal illness. By addressing pain as well as the physical, emotional, psycho-social, and spiritual problems associated with these serious and chronic conditions, it prevents and relieves suffering.

Palliative care goes hand in hand with curative treatment. While under palliative care, you may maintain your medical professional team (continue with appointments as scheduled, etc.)

Palliative care can be initiated any time after diagnosis of a chronic, terminal, or incurable disease. You will need a doctor’s referral to enter into in palliative care if an insurer is to provide reimbursement. In general, Medicare and other insurers may cover the medical aspects of palliative care. You should confirm coverage with both your insurer and your provider before starting any new medical service.

Choosing whether and when to engage a palliative care team is obviously a personal decision. Overlapping with your usual medical care, it is there to help with dealing with pain as part of the big issue. The goal of palliative care is to make you as comfortable as possible and give you the best quality of life you can attain at this particular stage in your progressive disease.

One of the goals of palliative care services is to head off medical crisis situations and lessen the need for ER visits. Palliative care can increase longevity, reduce re-admissions, and improve outcomes. According to Janet Smith, people who receive palliative care live 3 months longer than others without it, giving the patient additional time to get their affairs in order.

The palliative care team may include registered nurses, chaplains, or social workers who work in partnership with the patient’s already established professional medical team. Sometimes a palliative care physician is involved. Palliative care team visits are set up by the family/patient and are adjusted to meet the needs of the patient. The frequency and extent to which these visits and services are offered will depend on the patient’s needs and the capabilities of the palliative care service provider.

Likewise, the scope of services offered by a provider may vary. For example some of Community Palliative Care of Northern New Mexico services overlap with offerings with several of the in-home healthcare provider services such as taking the patient to their doctor appointments, providing in-home care, or interfacing with the patient’s family and medical team members.

Where to find Palliative Care Services:

Finally, Janet recommended that people consider keeping an up-to-date Medical Order for Scope of Treatment form posted on their refrigerator. The FAQ on the NM MOST website provides important background information.

You can reach Janet Smith, RN, via Community Palliative Care of Northern New Mexico.

Stayed tuned for upcoming programs and posts on Hospice and End of Life Options.