National Hospice and Palliative Care Awareness Month
By MaryAnn Fragola, DNP, ANPc, ACHPN
While we try to have gratitude all throughout the year, there is something about November that brings more awareness about having more gratefulness. November celebrates National Hospice and Palliative Care Awareness Month!
Palliative care focuses on the alleviation of suffering by improving a patient’s quality of life. It is not giving up or giving in; instead, it goes along with disease-modifying treatments throughout the course of their illness.
This year’s theme is “It’s About How You Live." The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization states that Hospice is not a place but high-quality care that enables patients and families to focus on living as fully as possible despite a life-limiting illness. Palliative care brings this holistic model of care to people earlier in the course of a serious illness. Hospice and palliative care programs provide pain management, symptom control, psychosocial support, and spiritual care to patients and their families. These programs combine the highest level of quality medical care with the emotional and spiritual support that families need most when facing a severe illness or nearing the end of life.
When we think of severe illnesses such as cancer, we tend to witness patients begin to have grim thoughts, thoughts of mortality, and end of life. While having end-of-life and advanced care planning discussions is essential, focusing on living with a chronic, serious illness is also important.
The Palliative team seeks to help you live as well as possible for as long as possible. Palliative care is not about dying but, rather, about living. You do not need to choose between quality or quantity of life. Palliative care helps you have both. Much of our focus is on learning the values and goals patients hold dear. In doing so, we can tailor the treatment plan to what is important to them, allowing them “live” how they want to live. When you often take the focus off the disease and change the mindset to living as normal as possible, a sense of empowerment is delivered. Research has shown that if a person with a cancer diagnosis discusses their options for care with their providers early on, the level of stress decreases, and their ability to cope with their illness increases.
As part of National Palliative Care Month, I am humbled to acknowledge the acceptance of the Palliative and Supportive Care Program as an extra layer of support for our patients here at NYCBS. For this month of thankfulness, I want to express how truly appreciative I am for all of your support! November is our time to celebrate hospice and palliative care workers who serve our nation, and it is the perfect time to learn more about what both palliative and hospice care can offer.