DEPARTMENT OF PALLIATIVE MEDICINE AND SUPPORTIVE CARE
Palliative Medicine specialises in pain management, symptom control, psychosocial support, supportive care and end of life care. It involves seeing patients with advanced cancer and non-cancer conditions throughout their illness trajectory. It aims to benefit the journey of the patients, through their difficult phases of the illness experience, including the end of life phase. Holistic approach, continuity of care, support, early assessment, symptom management and augmented physical well-being makes the therapeutic experience more acceptable to the patient and their families. It would also determine and allow appropriate person-centred goals of care at various stages of the disease including a dignified, peaceful end of life experience. Apart from cancer, the palliative medicine service also specialises in seeing patients with chronic and advanced organ failures such as chronic heart failure, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease, chronic degenerative and vascular neurological conditions, HIV/AIDS etc.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What is palliative Care?
A. Palliative care is a medical specialty comprising of a multidisciplinary team who offer medical care to people with chronic and advanced illness. Palliative care relieves suffering and improves quality of life for people of any age, and at any stage of a serious illness, whether that illness is curable, chronic or life threatening.
1. Provides relief from pain and other uncomfortable symptoms.
2. Assists you in making difficult medical decisions.
3. Coordinates care with your other doctors and helps you navigate the often-complex health care system.
4. Guides you in planning for living well, based on your needs, concerns and goals for care.
5. Provides you and your loved ones emotional and spiritual support and guidance.
Q. Who provides palliative care?
A. Palliative care is provided by a multi-disciplinary team that includes specialist doctors, nurses, social worker, counselor, volunteers and others
Q. What's the difference between palliative Care and hospice care?
A. Palliative Care is whole-person care that relieves symptoms of a disease or disorder whether or not it can be cured. You can receive palliative care at any stage of a serious illness, whether that illness is potentially curable, chronic or life threatening. Hospice is a specific type of palliative care for people who are likely to have very short life expectancy. In other words, hospice care is always palliative, but not all-palliative care is hospice care.
Q. What does a palliative care doctor do that's different from what my doctors do?
A. Your doctors focus on your general health or treating your disease or condition. Palliative care doctors focus on preventing and alleviating suffering and improving your quality of life, and help you and your loved one’s cope with the stress and burden of your illness.
Q. Shouldn't all my doctors be concerned with alleviating my suffering and improving my quality of life?
A. Yes, of course. But palliative doctors have special training and expertise in pain management and symptom control, and specialize in helping patients and their families cope with the many burdens of a serious illness, from the side effects of a medical treatment, to caregiver stress, to fears about the future. Palliative doctors can assist you with difficult medical decisions, helping you weigh the pros and cons of various treatments.
Q. If I receive palliative or hospice care, will I still be able to see my doctor?
A. Absolutely. Your palliative doctor coordinates care with your other doctors and helps you navigate the often-complex health care system.
Q. Is hospice just for the last few days or weeks of life?
A. Patients are eligible for hospice care if they have very short time to live (as determined by the treating doctor). Unfortunately, most people don't receive hospice care until the final days of life, possibly missing out on weeks of helpful care and quality time.
Q. If I agree to palliative care does that mean I'm "giving up?"
A. Not at all. The goal of palliative care is to make you comfortable and help you achieve the best possible quality of life. You can have palliative care while you are undergoing treatments that may cure or reverse the effects of your illness. In fact, palliative care can help you cope with aggressive treatments by getting your pain and symptoms under control to help you fight the disease.
Q. How can I find palliative care?
A. Palliative care can be provided at a hospital, home, an assisted living facility or at hospice. There are a number of ways to find a doctor who specializes in palliative medicine, including asking your doctor to refer you to a palliative doctor. At Kasturba Hospital Manipal, you can contact the Department of Palliative Medicine and Supportive Care on the Ground Floor of the Shirdi Saibaba Cancer Centre.
Q. Could I become addicted to the medication used for my pain and symptoms?
A. Addiction to medication prescribed for pain relief is a common fear, but it is seldom seen. Palliative doctors are experts in preventing problems and side effects of strong pain medications. They also can help patients with addictions get pain relief.
Q. Could taking pain medicine hasten my death?
A. Appropriately prescribed medicine will not hasten death. Your palliative doctor has the expertise to devise a medication plan that makes you comfortable, and safe.
Q. How do I know that I'm receiving the most beneficial or appropriate treatment?
A. Palliative doctors are concerned about you as a whole person - not just the part of you that is sick. We understand that people with serious illnesses can be frightened and unsure of themselves when making medical decisions. We also understand that there is not always one right or wrong answer, and that your needs and your wishes may change over time. Palliative doctors consider all of this when they help you develop your treatment plan.