Living with a serious illness can affect every area of your life. That is why our palliative care team takes a holistic, collaborative approach. Together, a doctor and nurse practitioner with social worker support can provide a range of services to help you experience more comfort and better quality of life.
Our Palliative Care Interdisciplinary Team
Following a referral from your doctor, care begins with an initial consult, followed by visits and support from the palliative care interdisciplinary team. Your personalized plan of care will include visits from a palliative care nurse practitioner, often with social worker support, and ongoing supervision by a board-certified doctor.
These professionals work as a team to improve your quality of life. We also work closely with your healthcare providers to help ensure your care is coordinated and seamless.
Who Makes Up the Palliative Care Team?
A doctor and a nurse practitioner with social worker support typically make up the palliative care team. Each specialist plays a unique role in supporting patients facing a serious illness.
Palliative Care Nurse
The palliative care nurse role is central in a family’s plan of care. The main goals of palliative care nursing are to help you feel as comfortable as possible in your daily life and empower you to make treatment choices on your own terms. Depending on the patient’s needs, palliative care nurse practitioners may provide the following services:
- Establish individualized goals of care that may change as an illness progresses
- Monitor symptoms and coordinate care with the patient’s healthcare team
- Coordinate transitions of care as needed or desired
- Maintain medication schedules and treatment protocols as directed by the patient’s healthcare providers
- Provide physical comfort by focusing on pain and symptom management
- Counsel patients and their families on next steps and care planning
- Educate patients and families about the patient’s condition, needs and progress
- Guide families as they make decisions about end-of-life care
Palliative Care Physician
The palliative care doctor (sometimes called the medical director) oversees your plan of care and ensures you are receiving effective pain and symptom management. Some of the palliative care physician’s responsibilities include:
- Recommending and prescribing medications needed for pain, nausea, constipation, anxiety, depression, shortness of breath or other symptoms that may be interfering with your quality of life
- Communicating with other members of your healthcare team to deliver well-coordinated care
- Providing guidance regarding potential treatment options
- Leading the palliative care interdisciplinary team
Palliative Care Social Worker
The role of the palliative care social worker is to support the nurse practitioner in assessing what types of support you might need and help you access these resources. Social workers may help the nurse practitioner with:
- Education about coping with illness and treatment options
- Emotional support for patients and their loved ones
- Understanding family dynamics and communication styles
- Addressing caregiver resources and needs
- Assisting patients with advance care planning
- Facilitating family meetings
- Navigating insurance and the healthcare system
- Identifying community resources and making referrals when appropriate
Living with a serious illness can be stressful. The palliative care social worker assists the nurse practitioner to help patients and families process feelings of loss and grief, provide counseling and support, suggest healthy coping tools, and facilitate difficult conversations with family and healthcare professionals.
What Is the Role of a Palliative Care Team?
The role of the palliative care team is to offer patient-centered, family-focused care. We provide medical, emotional and other support that you may need in order for you and your family to feel better and get more enjoyment out of daily life. Depending on your needs, some of the services that you might receive include:
- Expert management of pain and other difficult symptoms like nausea or anxiety
- Emotional support
- Support with caregiving, financial or other social challenges
- Disease education and guidance with end-of-life choices
- Coordination of care and patient advocacy
Living with a serious illness can be overwhelming. The support of a palliative care interdisciplinary team can bring comfort and peace of mind.
Getting started is simple. When you call Amedisys, we can help you secure your physician’s referral and order so you can begin receiving care. Call an Amedisys care center near you to see how palliative care may be able to help you and your family.