Palliative Care: hard to pronounce, hard to spell

There has got to be a better term — more user friendly, if you will — for “palliative care.”  It means, of course, providing comfort care — relieving and preventing the suffering that is part and parcel of illness, particularly terminal illness.

Here’s a great post from Don Taylor at The Incidental Economist on palliative care (emphasis mine):

“Interesting piece in the LA Times on the promise and pitfalls of palliative care.

•In the promise category, increasing evidence of palliative care effectively dealing with the symptoms of patients and helping them to navigate  the system.

•In the negative category is uncertainty about how such care will be financed, and workforce needs.

In the insanity category is the degree to which our culture cannot have a reasonable discussion about anything related to death and asking hard questions such as “is this treatment worth it?” Palliative care tends to ask this question so will take lots of political heat.

There is a great need to communicate the reality of what palliative care is: care that addresses symptoms and helps patients focus on goals of care regardless of prognosis. Palliative care is not synonymous with hospice, though the two are related and often confused (all hospice is palliative care, but all palliative care is not hospice).”

Providing palliative care is a theme of several of my booklets, and I take a broad view of palliative care: it is more than pharmacological. It can include music, massages and even plain old conversation. Because, as a person passes through the stages of dying, it is not just the body that needs support — the mind and the soul need comfort care as well.