#AHCJ18 panel looks at the increasing demand for palliative care

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Palliative care has come a long way since it emerged onto the U.S. health care scene in the late 1980s. The number of palliative care programs in U.S. hospitals with more than 50 beds tripled between 2000 and 2015, skyrocketing from 25 percent to 75 percent, according to this Health Affairs article.

The authors define palliative care as “team-based care that focuses on providing relief from the pain, symptom, and stress of serious illness.” New York Presbyterian Hospital goes a step further, explaining, that it is “interdisciplinary care that aims to relieve suffering and improve the quality of life while simultaneously administering other appropriate treatments for patients with advanced, chronic, or life threatening illness.”

Although palliative care is an integral part of hospice care, recipients don’t need to wait until end of life to receive it. It’s available and can be given to patients during any stage of their illness, along with curative care, regardless of prognosis.

Over the past two decades, several innovative palliative care models have emerged to provide relief to suffering with serious, long term conditions, and also mitigate family caregiver burden. The Center to Advance Palliative Care, (CAPC) which was started in 1999 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, was the lead organization in developing standards for palliative care programs that could be adapted to the needs of specific institutions. What has changed since the turn of this century to account for such an increase in demand? How can providers honor the wishes of patients when insurers won’t cover needed services outside an institutional environment? How have home care agencies stepped up to provide quality palliative care to the seriously ill? And how can journalists cover this issue with sensitivity and insight?

Experts will explore these and other questions about palliative and hospice care during the Health Journalism 2018 panel on “The increasing demand for palliative care,” on Friday, April 13 at 10:40 am. Robert Shannon, M.D., assistant professor, family and palliative medicine

and program director, palliative medicine fellowship at the Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla., will discuss the growing need for palliative services and how hospitals meeting this demand. Scott Harbertson R.N., director of clinical services at Hospice of the Valley, Phoenix, will walk us through the home care side of the delivery equation and address some of the common misconceptions about palliative and hospice care. And Carolyn Jones, an award-winning documentary filmmaker, will give us a peek at her latest film, “Defining Hope,” (which I wrote about here). She’ll discuss lessons learned when interviewing doctors, nurses, families and patients; how to deal with suffering and death with sensitivity and compassion without losing sight of the bigger story.

We hope journalists attending this session gain a better understanding of end-of-life issues, the array of care options, and return home with ideas for covering this topic in their own communities.

Whether or not you can attend the conference, follow the conversation on Twitter using #AHCJpalliative.

Further reading:

Road to Phoenix:

Note: Pre-registration for the conference closes at noon CT on March 12.

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