Palliative Care

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Overview

The Palliative Care Program offers consultation for patients with advanced illness and their families. Palliative care consultations can be provided in the office, the home, the hospital, or the skilled nursing facility. The Palliative care team at Atrius Health includes physicians, advanced practice clinicians, a chaplain, and a licensed social worker. We collaborate with the patient's primary clinicians to meet the complex needs of patients and families and to provide the best possible care.

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is a team approach to medical care for patients with life-limiting illness, drawing on the expertise of physicians, nurses, social workers, and other clinicians. The goal of palliative care is to promote the best possible quality of life for patients and their families by relieving symptoms, providing emotional and spiritual support and engaging in advance care planning.

Patients are referred to palliative care for help managing a range of diseases that produce symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping. Palliative care also provides care for patients with psychosocial distress related to life-threatening illness.

Palliative Care Consultation Services

Our team of caring professionals provides the following services:

  • Symptom Management - Offers clinical expertise in the management of pain, shortness of breath, nausea, anxiety, depression, poor appetite, weakness, and other troubling day-to-day symptoms. Our goal is to maximize the quality of life for patients and families.
  • Advance Care Planning - Assists patients and families in identifying their goals and translating those goals into a plan of care. This may involve reviewing the prognosis of the patient's disease, discussing the kinds of problems that are likely to arise over time, and weighing the benefits and burdens of proposed medical interventions. We can lead family meetings and help the medical team understand the patient's perspective.
  • Psychosocial Support - Provides counseling on psychosocial and spiritual matters to help patients and families cope with the burden of illness. We can help identify the most appropriate site of care, discuss insurance and financial issues, and open up the discussion of fears and concerns about the future.
  • Referral for Hospice Care - Palliative care is not the same as hospice care. Hospice provides comprehensive primary care to patients who are expected to have six months or less to live. It is focused on keeping patients comfortable either in their own homes or in a nursing facility. Patients receiving palliative care, by contrast, often remain interested in potentially life-prolonging treatments such as chemotherapy or hospitalization. As the patient's disease progresses, the palliative care clinician may discuss hospice and will make a referral to one of our many hospice partners if requested by the patient.

The Palliative Care Program at Atrius Health uses the care options above to help foster communication, provide emotional support, and provide quality treatment of pain and other symptoms.

How To Contact Us

If you have a question about The Palliative Care Program or would like to speak with a member of our Team, please call 617-421-2686. You may also have your physician or other medical team member call us on your behalf.