What is palliative care?The focus of palliative care is to provide relief from the pain, stress and other symptoms of serious illnesses. Palliative care also includes emotional, psychological and spiritual support to patients and their loved ones as they plan for the next steps. Our palliative care team works with your doctors, providing an additional layer of support. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along with treatment.
A serious illness is any medical condition that has advanced to a point where it cannot be cured. Examples of serious illnesses include advanced cancer, Alzheimer's disease and advanced heart, lung or kidney disease.
Palliative care may be right for you if any of the following statements are true:
- I am living with a serious illness that is causing pain, stress, nausea, difficulty breathing, fatigue, trouble sleeping or loss of appetite.
- I would like to better understand my illness and get guidance about the treatment options.
- I would like for my medical care and treatments to be aligned with my values, goals and wishes.
- I would like help making plans for my future care needs.
Yes. Palliative care is different because people can use palliative care services at any stage of a serious life-threatening illness. Hospice care is only for people who are not seeking treatment for a serious life-threatening illness.
Our palliative care team includes physicians, advance practice providers, nurses, social workers and chaplains who have training and special skills to help people with advanced illnesses.
Our team will work closely with you, your loved ones, and your doctor to decide which of our services will help you the most. Our services include:
- Pain management
- Helping you decide what is important to you and what your care goals are
- Explaining your illness and any symptoms or complications that you may experience
- Helping with advance care planning, including living wills, Medical Power of Attorney, and POLST (Physician's Orders for Life Sustaining Treatments)
- Coordinating community resources for:
- Supportive services at home
- Emotional and spiritual support and counseling
- Grief and bereavement support and counseling
- Help with the transition to end-of-life care, if and when appropriate
Yes. Ask your doctor to make a referral for a palliative care consultation. One of our specialists will set up a time to meet with you in the hospital, in an outpatient setting or in your home. After the consultation, we will work with your doctor to make sure you get the best possible care.
Most insurance plans, including Medicare and MaineCare, cover palliative care. We welcome all patients who are living with a serious or life-limiting illness, regardless of whether there is insurance coverage.