The World Health Organization defines palliative care as, an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.

To put it simply, the goal of palliative care is to make the patient as comfortable as possible. As you might imagine, a large part of making patients comfortable is managing the chronic pain that often accompanies end of life care. Not every hospice patient will experience chronic pain, but the hospice team at Cura-HPC will assess the patient’s pain level on a regular basis to see if any care plan adjustments are needed.

To assess the patient’s pain, there are several scales a hospice team can use: 0-10 Numeric Pain Rating Scale, the Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale, and the FLACC scale. Each scale has its own advantages and will be used to best assess the pain of the patient.

Once the level of pain has been assessed, we can start treating the patient. A common pain management technique is using medication. By using the right dosage and type of medication, we can block the pain receptors in the brain and decrease the feeling of pain. Some of the most common types of pain medications used to treat chronic pain are:

  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone
  • Methadone
  • Hydromorphone

Anytime medication is used, we take precautions to ensure patients are not over medicated. While we want to manage the pain as much as possible, we also want patients to be coherent enough to spend meaningful time with their family.

Another method used to treat pain is by tending to the emotional symptoms of pain. Depression and anxiety are often associated with end of life care, and these two factors can worsen the physical pain a patient may be experiencing. By offering grief counseling and bereavement care, depression and anxiety can be better managed.

If your loved one is in need of hospice and palliative care, call Cura-HPC.