When a patient is facing a terminal illness and curative treatments are no longer working, it’s common for doctors to change the goal of medical care from curing the illness to making the patient as comfortable as possible. This philosophy of care is sometimes called comfort care.
Comfort care also referred to as palliative care, is provided by a hospice care team by focusing on relieving the effects of symptoms. The members of a hospice team will have experience in wound care, medication management, pain management, and other end-of-life issues. To provide more comfort for the patient, comfort care can be provided at home, the hospital, an assisted living center, or where ever the patient lives.
Because not all pain is physical, comfort care also incorporates a spiritual and mental health aspect. A bereavement consoler or chaplain will be part of the care team to help with any non-physical symptoms that may come up. These services are also available to the family of the loved one.
It’s important to note that shifting from curative to comfort care doesn’t mean all life-saving treatments will be automatically stopped. In many cases, a curative treatment will also provide symptom relief and comfort to the patient, so these treatments may continue when comfort care starts.
Making this switch can be a tough decision for families because they feel as if they are giving up on their loved one. However, doctors won’t make this recommendation until all curative treatment options are exhausted, and they feel it’s in the best interest of the patient. Switching to comfort care isn’t giving up, it’s trying to provide the best level of care for the patient as possible.
If you or a loved one are in need of hospice care, call Cura-HPC. One of our transition coordinators will more than happy to talk with you about your options.