When you ask for a palliative care consultation or are referred, a palliative care professional will review your needs and meet with you to answer any questions you or your family members may have. He or she will then connect you with a team to allow a number of treatment methods to be used to relieve symptoms and help you and your family cope.
Palliative care physicians and staff work closely with other specialists to provide patients with helpful resources. Our partners include*:
- Spiritual Services
- Child Life Services
- Nutritional Services
- Psychology and Psycho-oncology
- Social Work Services
- Music Thanatology
- Art Therapy
*Partners vary depending on the Froedtert & MCW location where you receive palliative care.
A family meeting may be helpful when there is a need to talk about the patient’s illness, goals of care or treatment decisions, patient or family needs, or to answer patient or family questions. Members from the primary health care team participate and may include: doctors, nurses, therapists, a social worker and a chaplain.
Health care team members discuss the family’s needs and help them understand treatment choices and goals. Additionally, they address concerns or fears about the patient’s condition. The palliative care team may also be present at a family conference and can help facilitate these discussions. Together, these experts help patients and their family members think through the patient’s wishes and better understand how these wishes might affect care.
A family meeting may be helpful:
- When the family and health care team need to make difficult treatment choices
- When there is a new treatment option or a change in the patient’s health
- To help to manage family conflicts over next steps in care
- To help patients and their families better understand their condition and prognosis
- To talk about the patient wishes and goals for their future care
Common Palliative Care Treatments
One of the most common palliative care treatments is pain management. This can be accomplished with pain-relieving medicines like ibuprofen or acetaminophen or stronger drugs like morphine. Non-drug therapies, sometimes called complementary therapies, may also be part of the pain management plan. These may include massage therapy, relaxation methods, music therapy, acupuncture and aromatherapy.
Palliative care may also involve non-medical support for you and your family members. Emotional support, spiritual guidance and help navigating the health care system may be provided. If a patient is experiencing anxiety or depression as a result of illness, palliative care can help ease that condition, too.
Most insurance plans will cover a palliative care visit the same as other medical services. We encourage patients to check first with their insurance provider about coverage. We also have staff available to help patients navigate insurance questions.
Transitioning Care After a Hospital Stay
Because we understand the difficulties and complexities of making decisions about after-hospital care, we have liaison relationships with the entire community, including hospice and home care agencies for uninterrupted care between the hospital and home or another facility.
Our Palliative Care Program’s staff helps coordinate discharge services with the appropriate hospice or home care program nearest to the patient’s place of residence, and then we go on to ensure the full support of everyone during the transition. Home visits are also available through the Froedtert & MCW Palliative Care team.