Palliative care services are provided to seriously ill patients along with curative treatments and may include care coordination, pain and symptom management, and team-based support according to their needs. Palliative care services can help families and patients cope with stressors of the disease, anticipate and manage crises, and say no to unnecessary treatments.
Although palliative care aligns with the country’s health policy goals, there are many hurdles that keep it from being integrated across the healthcare continuum. This prevents hospice patients who are in desperate need of these services from opting for them and even makes them hesitant to discuss it with their doctor as an option.
Educating policymakers, healthcare professionals, and the public regarding palliative care can remove the lack of familiarity, associated discomfort, and stigma of palliative care. It can allow patients to feel more confident in asking for support that focuses on their quality of life.
Statutory or regulatory definitions that limit palliative care to the patient’s end-of-life stage can prevent them from opting for the right curative treatments and managing distress effectively. States must define palliative care in the regulations appropriately and consider how these services relate to the state’s care continuum and other strategies and initiatives.
Access to palliative care is often limited due to a lack of trained providers, especially in smaller hospitals and rural areas. To increase the number of adept professionals and their availability, states must build on systems that support palliative care or promote palliative care training options.
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