Palliative Care: Goals of Care

Palliative care nurse, Michelle Hedding, and I talk about what palliative care is and how nurses can advocate for it for our patients. We also discuss the contemporary issue of communicating with family members during this COVID era of visitor restrictions.

Palliative Care vs. Hospice Care

  • Hospice care requires a six month prognosis; palliative care can start any time after the diagnosis of a serious illness
  • Patients receiving palliative care can be full code
  • Palliative care can be given simultaneously with curative treatment, hospice care excludes curative treatment

Ways that nurses can promote palliative care for their patients

  • Ask “soft” questions: “What matters the most to you in your life?”, ” What does a good day look like?”, “What hopes what worries do you have?”
  • Ask “concrete” questions: “Do you have a health care directive?”
  • Ask the patient’s primary doctor for a palliative care consult. You may have to sell it as a time saver or point out that involving palliative care does not mean “giving up”
  • Get to know your palliative care team. They can coach you on communication techniques regarding goals of care discussions.

The Big Take-Aways

  • Start the goals of care discussion early
  • During this visitor-restricted COVID era, try to paint an accurate picture of your patient’s status to family members when giving updates and on FaceTime

Episode image from Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief

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