New Guidelines Call for “Seismic Shift” in Palliative-Care Delivery

In new guidelines published by the National Coalition for Hospice and Palliative Care, the National Consensus Project for Quality Palliative Care urges all health-care providers and organizations to integrate palliative care into the routine services they provide to people living with cancer or other serious illnesses. The guidelines also include tools, resources, and practice examples to assist with their implementation.

“Palliative care should be provided throughout the community wherever people living with serious illness receive care, including outpatient clinics, cancer centers, long-term care facilities, office practices, homeless shelters, dialysis units, and at home,” said Martha L. Twaddle, MD, co-chair of the guidelines panel. “To reach that goal, the guidelines promote consistent criteria and encourage continuity of palliative care across settings.”

The guidelines (“Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care, Fourth Edition”) were developed by the National Consensus Project for Quality Palliative Care, a coalition of 16 national organizations with extensive expertise with palliative care and hospice.

New recommendations appearing in this edition include:

  • providing each person living with serious illness a comprehensive assessment to determine his or her needs and priority goals
  • assessing the needs of families and caregivers for support and education
  • integrating palliative care principles and best practices in various settings
  • improving coordination of care, especially as the person living with serious illness transitions from one place to another

“We realize it may be overwhelming for providers to offer palliative care if they haven’t previously,” said Betty Ferrell, PhD, MA, co-chair of the guidelines panel. “That’s why the guidelines provide extensive real-world practice examples to illustrate what quality palliative care can and should look like in the community.”

The guidelines have been endorsed by more than 80 national organizations, including the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, the American Board of Internal Medicine, and the American Cancer Society.

Source: National Coalition for Hospice and Palliative Care press release, October 31, 2018.

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