Palliative Care

Palliative Care Program at Ingalls Home Care

Care that comforts, and may extend life expectancy

Palliative Care services are designed to ensure quality of life and provide symptom control for anyone facing serious illness. Patients eligible for these services include anyone diagnosed with a serious or terminal illness. Patients that carry this diagnosis may still undergo curative or active treatment.

The goal of palliative care is relief of any distressing symptom and improvement of quality of life. Another important aspect of palliative care is the holistic approach to management including physical, psychosocial, spiritual, and advanced decision making.

Palliative care is a consulting service which can be provided in the home, hospital, long term facility or nursing home. The palliative care advanced practice nurse works collaboratively with the patient’s medical team to provide the best customized plan of care for each patient with follow up as necessary.

Please call 708.331.0226 to make a palliative care referral. We look forward to working with you to relieve any unnecessary suffering for your patients.

Serving all of Cook County south of 67th Street and all of Will County east of Route 53.

Pain, discomfort, and emotional distress, are just a few of the issues patients diagnosed with life-limiting illness may face. For the palliative care specialist, improving quality of life is paramount. Yet, few families understand fully the benefits of palliative care services. Kelli Nickols, FNP- BC, a clinical nurse specialist with the Ingalls Home Care home-based Palliative Care program, says the services of palliative care may even extend a patient's life expectancy.

In fact, a recent randomized, double blind study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that patients with non-small-cell lung cancer who received palliative care lived an average of three months longer. In addition, these patients reported an improved quality of life through the final course of their illness.

Palliative care can help provide relief for symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, constipation, difficulty sleeping and anxiety, just to name a few.

"Palliative care can be provided at any stage in the patient's illness, even if the patient is seeking curative treatment," explained Nickols. "We work with the attending physician to support both patients and their families. Additionally, we help them make decisions that are consistent with their goals of care. We look at the patient and family as a whole in order to accommodate their individual needs."

When Nickols first visits with a patient and his or her family, she asks, "If you felt better, what would you want to do?" Although patients may have lofty dreams of traveling to destinations like Rome, most of them want to return to doing routine things like attending church, playing bridge or working on needle point. Whatever the patient's goal may be, Nickols says that defined goal becomes her and the patient's first objective.

She also tries to learn as much as she can about her patient.

"I want them to tell me about their life. Once I understand their frame of reference, I can better understand how to help them, and what barriers prevent them from reaching their goals. For instance, if they've had a bad experience with pain medications, it will take more patience and teaching to get their buy-in to utilize these agents effectively.

"We also support the family and educate them on the importance of reporting any changes in their loved ones health or behavior."

Sometimes palliative care services may be as simple as helping families identify things they might normally overlook like taking the knobs off the oven to prevent a dementia patient from trying to cook – a potentially deadly situation. Nickols says that supporting families; teaching them how to keep their loved one safe; helping them cope with their loved one's illness; and preventing caregiver burnout are essential.

Ingalls Palliative Care program also helps patients and their families navigate the healthcare system by assisting with coordination of care, and by offering suggestions on community resources.

"We support our patients every step of the way, regardless of the stage of their illness," continued Nickols. "While we understand that there is always hope, we know that managing a patient's pain and helping them make lifestyle modifications can lead to a better quality of life. Patients and their families can rest assured knowing there is support available to them at Ingalls.

"We can assist them to better manage their pain and symptoms in the home or a long-term care facility; and, we are linked to a variety of resources." Patients receive a comprehensive care plan that may include, if needed: in-home nursing care, wound care, rehabilitative services, psychiatric services, support groups and hospice care.

"My goal is to help each and every patient live out each day to the best of their ability, and provide them with the tools necessary to reach their individual goals," concluded Nickols. "We take great pride in helping patients and their families achieve quality of life."

For more information about the Palliative Care program at Ingalls, call 708.331.0226.

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