Palliative Care Keeps Patients Going: February 12, 2014

Hospice care and palliative care; both offer support to the seriously ill. When it comes to distinguishing them, timing is everything.

“Palliative care is based on the hospice model which is using a team of specialists to address the complex medical problems that people with life threatening or life limiting have,” says Dr. Andrew Esch, palliative care specialist.

Hospice covers end-stage care, helping patients in the last months of life. People can engage in palliative care as soon as they get a diagnosis. Studies find the extra support helps people live longer, stronger.

“Patients actually do better, live longer with less anxiety, less depression going through cancer treatment if they have palliative care involved,” says Dr. Esch.

Palliative care falls into three general areas: pain and symptom management, coordination of care between specialists and psycho-social support- which can include anything that stands in the way of patients getting what they need to survive and thrive.

“Someone who is non-compliant with cancer treatments may not be coming because it's a choice of ‘do I pay for gas in my car or feed my animals at home’ and it may not seem like a big thing but it's a barrier to care,” says Dr. Esch.

Acupuncturist Bee Lim drives home the point, focusing her attention on wellbeing.

“I’m here to help deal with all the other issues surrounding cancer or the treatment of cancer like pain, digestive issues, sleep, mood,” says Lim.

And it may be the personal touch that sets palliative care apart.

“I think there’s been more demand from the public and people are much more savvier. The expectation is that we should be focusing on the person as a whole,” says Dr. Esch.