Always Think Comfort - Palliative Care and Pain Management Educational Specialist
Who would benefit from a Palliative Care Consult?
Patients who suffer from unrelieved pain or have debilitating symptoms that prevent them from enjoying life to its fullest.  The goal of palliative care is to make the patient comfortable by relieving pain and suffering.  Pain may result from physical, emotional, or spiritual causes.  Our palliative care team focuses on all types of pain.
 
Does the patient need to be near the end of life to request a palliative care consult?
No. While palliative care plays a significant role in patients nearing the end of life and can help to relieve many symptoms during that time, it is not necessary to be at or near end of life to benefit from palliative care.  The latest research shows that the need for palliative care increases as the disease progresses.
 
Why would I choose palliative care over hospice, what's the difference?
Hospice was initiated as a Medicare benefit for those individuals that have less than a year to live and have chosen not to pursue aggressive therapy.  Palliative care can be used at any time and in conjunction with curative treatments, such as chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.  Our Advanced Practice Nurses (APN's) will help with the transition to hospice when the patient and family have made that decision.
 
What takes place during a palliative care consult?
 In order for us to see a patient, your physician needs to write an order for a pain/palliative care consult. When asked to see a patient, our APN's will consult with the primary care physician to determine the appropriateness of the consult.  Once the consult is deemed appropriate, one of our APN's will fully evaluate the patient, do a history and physical, review the chart, speak with the nurse caring for the patient, and devise a comprehensive palliative care plan.  The initial visit is approximately one hour.
If the family has concerns about which decisions are best for their loved ones, their Nurse Consultant will help them to fully explore their options, and guide them through the difficult decisions that need to be made.
Routinely, our APN's conduct family meetings, make referrals to social workers, case managers, pastoral care, and counseling services, all in an attempt to facilitate holistic patient care.
 
What is a comprehensive palliative care plan?
A comprehensive palliative care plan addresses the physical, emotional, spiritual, and social needs of a patient. Interventions that ensure that these needs are met require a multidisciplinary team approach. Usually not one person can meet physical, emotional, spiritual, and social needs of a patient and family which is why at Always Think Comfort, we utilize the services of clergy, social workers, nursing, psychologists, and any other providers that can help meet your needs.
 
 
What training do the Advanced Practice Nurses (APN'S) have?
Advanced Practice Nurses are Registered Nurses that have completed a Masters degree or higher and are licensed by the Board of Nursing to practice in collaboration with a physician. They can perform a history and physical, order labs and medications, and provide education to the patient and family. Always Think Comfort and their staff are credentialed as Medicare and Medicaid providers.
Our nurses have years of experience in palliative care, pain management, geriatrics, and oncology, among other specialties.
 
Is the primary care doctor still involved in the care when the Always Think Comfort Advanced Practice Nurses are seeing a patient?
Absolutely.  Our goal is to work in collaboration with your primary physicians.  Our nurses have experience in pain and symptom management and will consult with your physician on the care of your loved one.  Once we have seen a patient, we will call the physician or leave a note on the chart regarding our findings and recommendations.
 
How can a family member request an Advanced Practice Nurse from Always Think Comfort to evaluate the patient?
If you would like us to evaluate your loved one, speak to the facility administration or physician about contacting us.
 
Palliative care websites:
www.hpna.com  Hospice and Palliative Care Nurses Association
www.njhospice.org  NJ Hospice Organization