Signature Palliative Care: A unique approach to holistic care

During November, we celebrated National Hospice and Palliative Care Month  to raise awareness about these crucial services. Today, we are focusing on palliative care and how it brings a holistic model of care to people earlier in the course of a serious illness.

Signature practices true continuity of care. Our in-home care team is made up of a physician, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers and even chaplains. They provide patient-centered care where the patient calls home – whether that is in a nursing facility, assisted living community, or a private residence.

What is Palliative Care and how does it differ from Hospice?

Palliative care is a philosophy of care that focuses on symptom management, goals of care, advanced care planning, and quality of life issues at any point in a disease trajectory.  Hospice shares a similar philosophy, but hospice care is given within the last 6 months or so of life.

baby boomer daughter holds her senior mother's hand

The uniqueness of Signature Palliative Care is a hybrid of community and home-based palliative care. As we see healthcare becoming ever more complex, confusing, and often times overwhelming to the population we serve, it is vital that the care model is flexible and rings true to our mission of providing care throughout the continuum of life in order to enhance the life of every person we serve.

Palliative care physicians and nurse practitioners act as the primary care providers, building the rapport that is so often lost in the doctor’s office and providing one-on-one care in the patient’s residence. These primary care providers are the centerpiece in guiding care for the seriously ill by heavily embodying palliative practices and can even transition into being the hospice provider. It would be challenging to find a more continuous model of care.

What is Primary Care?

Primary care is health care at a basic rather than specialized level for people making an initial approach to a doctor or nurse for treatment. The primary care physician or nurse practitioner acts as a guide through the patient’s health care journey.

Our palliative team walks alongside patients and their families as they navigate complex disease, multiple doctors, specialists, therapists, hospitalizations, all the while assessing their home environment, finances, and social, emotional, and spiritual support. We are the hub of the wheel that helps patients and families better understand their illness and educate them on what questions they should ask their providers, so that they can better plan for their future and make the most well-informed decisions.

Our palliative care program strives to not be the third or fourth option but be the option

medical doctor comforting senior patient

that coincides with all options of care and therapies when living with serious illness. The teams’ fuel is collaboration and teamwork, sometimes with the nurse practitioner providing nursing services and social services in the home all at once. This level of holistic, hands-on care is difficult to conduct when the patient is in and out of the doctor’s office or hospital rather than being treated in the comfort of their home.

We often hear feedback from patients and families that the Palliative Care team is the “link to life” and “link to reality”. It’s not just the philosophy that the Signature Palliative Care team brings to the door, it is the embodiment of what patient advocacy should be. It is the truest testament to our communities that Signature is invested in providing quality care across the spectrum.

We have providers available for the most complex of cases. Our team of nurses, social workers, and providers are able to prevent trips to the hospital for many of our patients, managing them at home and catching their disease flare early, when it is easier to correct. Our patients and families develop a trusting relationship with the palliative team, so that when a hard decision has to be made (such as the decision to enroll in hospice), it is done much more seamlessly and effortlessly than it would have otherwise.

We also have a chaplain available for our palliative patients as. And our palliative nurses frequently accompany patients to their doctor appointments to help improve two-way communication and help teach and coach the patient after the appointment on care directives. Signature Palliative Care programs are non-billable to participate in. This means that our unique service comes at no extra cost, which is another important factor in providing quality care during uncertain times in healthcare.