Palliative care is still not a well-known or understood service, although it has proven to help many patients and the families of patients living with a serious illness or health problem in dealing with emotional, physical and spiritual concerns. A new educational campaign has been launched by The Joint Commission that may heighten awareness of this special health care.
The Joint Commission’s new educational campaign, “Speak Up: What you need to know about your serious illness and palliative care,” covers topics such as how and when to get palliative care, questions that palliative care providers may ask you, questions to ask them, where to find information, and more. The campaign brochure provides helpful tips and encourages people to take action to improve their health.
Palliative care is special health care designed to improve the quality of life of patients and their families by relieving the pain, symptoms and stress of a serious or debilitating illness. Designed to help patients feel better, palliative care can help to relieve symptoms such as loss of appetite, pain, nausea and sleeplessness, as well as provide help with health care decision making, managing health care and supporting family members.
“Seriously ill patients have special physical, emotional and spiritual needs,” says Ronald M. Wyatt, M.D., M.H.H., medical director, Division of Healthcare Improvement, The Joint Commission. “By considering the option of palliative care, these patients and their families may find that palliative is a way to prevent or relieve suffering.”
The Joint Commission’s new palliative care education campaign is part of the award-winning Speak Up program. Speak Up brochures are available in English and Spanish at www.jointcommission.org. The Speak Up program urges people to take an active role in their own health care.
The basic framework of the Speak Up campaign urges patients to:
|Speak up if you have questions or concerns, and if you don’t understand, ask again. It’s your body and you have a right to know.
Pay attention to the care you are receiving. Make sure you’re getting the right treatments and medications by the right health care professionals. Don’t assume anything.
Educate yourself about your diagnosis, the medical tests you are undergoing, and your treatment plan.
Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate.
Know what medications you take and why you take them. Medication errors are the most common health care errors.
Use a hospital, clinic, surgery center, or other type of health care organization that has undergone a rigorous on-site evaluation against established state-of-the-art quality and safety standards, such as that provided by The Joint Commission.
Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the center of the health care team.
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