Palliative Care Referrals – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Palliative Care Services Glossary

What is a Palliative Care Referral?

Palliative care referrals are requests made by healthcare providers to involve a specialized team of professionals in the care of patients with serious illnesses. Palliative care focuses on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness, with the goal of improving quality of life for both the patient and their family. This type of care is often provided alongside curative treatments and can be offered at any stage of an illness.

Who can make a Palliative Care Referral?

Palliative care referrals can be made by a variety of healthcare providers, including physicians, nurse practitioners, social workers, and other members of the healthcare team. Patients and their families can also request a palliative care referral if they feel that they would benefit from the additional support and symptom management that palliative care provides.

When should a Palliative Care Referral be made?

Palliative care referrals should be considered for patients with serious illnesses who are experiencing symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, nausea, fatigue, or emotional distress. Referrals can be made at any point during the course of an illness, regardless of the prognosis. It is important for healthcare providers to discuss palliative care options with patients early on in their illness so that they can benefit from the support and symptom management that palliative care provides.

How is a Palliative Care Referral processed?

Once a palliative care referral is made, the palliative care team will typically conduct an assessment of the patient’s needs and develop a care plan in collaboration with the patient, their family, and the referring healthcare provider. This may involve a physical assessment, a review of the patient’s medical history, and discussions about the patient’s goals and preferences for care. The palliative care team will then work with the referring healthcare provider to coordinate care and provide ongoing support.

What happens after a Palliative Care Referral is made?

After a palliative care referral is made, the palliative care team will work with the patient and their family to provide symptom management, emotional support, and assistance with decision-making. This may involve coordinating care with other healthcare providers, providing education and resources, and helping to navigate the healthcare system. The palliative care team will also work to ensure that the patient’s goals and preferences for care are respected and that they receive the support they need to live as comfortably and fully as possible.

What are the benefits of Palliative Care Referrals?

There are many benefits to palliative care referrals, including improved symptom management, increased quality of life, and enhanced communication and support for patients and their families. Palliative care can help patients and their families navigate the complex healthcare system, make informed decisions about their care, and cope with the emotional and spiritual aspects of serious illness. By involving a palliative care team, patients can receive comprehensive, holistic care that addresses their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, leading to better outcomes and improved quality of life.