ST. LOUIS (CNS) — Palliative and hospice care “address the needs of the whole person, which is the foundation of Catholic health care,” said Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity, who is president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, based in St. Louis.
She made the comments in an Oct. 8 news release issued jointly by CHA and the Supportive Care Coalition in Hillsboro, Oregon, to mark World Hospice and Palliative Care Day Oct. 13.
The two organizations are encouraging the public to learn more about the benefits of palliative care to relieve suffering for chronic and life-limiting conditions and about the role of hospice care at the end of life.
They also highlighted the need for greater access to and awareness of palliative care and hospice services in the United States.
While the availability of palliative and hospice care services is growing in the U.S., many patients do not have access to such services and those who do often lack an understanding of how they can benefit from this type of care, the two groups said.
“Patients diagnosed with a serious illness, such as cancer, often face daunting treatment options,” Sister Keehan said. “And while modern medicine is helping prolong life, surgeries and drugs are only part of the healing process. Often as our patients’ physical condition becomes the primary focus, the care for their emotional and spiritual well-being is shortchanged or overlooked.”
Palliative medicine provides supportive care for people living with serious illness by focusing on relieving their physical pain as well as their emotional and spiritual distress. It “is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided alongside curative treatment,” they said.
Such care involves a team of doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains and others working with the patient and family members.
Similar to palliative care, hospice care focuses on keeping a patient comfortable and pain free, both physically, emotionally and spiritually. This care “is typically provided to patients who are near the end of their lives,” they said.
“We have a long way to go in making ‘what matters to you’ a more important question than ‘what’s the matter with you,'” said Denise Hess, executive director of the Supportive Care Coalition.
Hess’ group is a coalition of Catholic health ministries that believe “palliative care is a hallmark of Catholic health care through which God’s healing love is revealed.” The group’s website is https://supportivecarecoalition.org.
Together, CHA and the Supportive Care Coalition are advocating for access to high quality palliative care for all who need it and developing resources and tools to improve palliative care programs and increase awareness of its benefits.
Three resources designed for patients and their families can be found on the CHA website, http://www.chausa.org/palliative-care:
— “Expressing Your Health Care Wishes,” which includes FAQs about advance directives.
— “Caring Even When We Cannot Cure,” which explains the differences between palliative and hospice care.
— “Caring for People at the End of Life,” which explains the Catholic Church’s teaching about end-of-life decisions.
CHA said the resources are written from the perspective of Catholic tradition “but can be used by people of any religious tradition.”
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103