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Palliative Care Delivery Models for Patients with Cancer

Palliative Care Delivery Models for Patients with Cancer

Palliative care is a specialized form of medical care that aims to improve the quality of life and quality of care for patients with cancer and their families. Palliative care can be delivered by different models, depending on the patient’s needs, preferences, and goals of care. In this blog post, we will review some of the common models of palliative care delivery for patients with cancer and discuss their benefits and challenges.

Outpatient Palliative Care Clinics

Outpatient palliative care clinics are one of the key points of entry for timely access to palliative care. In this model, patients with cancer can receive longitudinal palliative care services in a clinic setting, such as symptom management, monitoring, education, and advance care planning. Outpatient palliative care clinics can be embedded within oncology clinics or operate as standalone clinics. Outpatient palliative care clinics can enhance patient satisfaction, quality of life, symptom control, and communication with oncology teams . However, some of the challenges of this model include limited availability, accessibility, and awareness of outpatient palliative care services, as well as potential fragmentation of care between oncology and palliative care teams .

Inpatient Palliative Care Consultation Teams

Inpatient palliative care consultation teams provide expert symptom management and discharge planning for acutely symptomatic hospitalized patients with cancer. In this model, palliative care specialists work collaboratively with oncology teams to address the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of patients and families. Inpatient palliative care consultation teams can reduce hospital length of stay, costs, and readmissions, as well as improve patient satisfaction, quality of life, and end-of-life care . However, some of the challenges of this model include limited availability and staffing of inpatient palliative care teams, as well as potential delays in referral or involvement of palliative care specialists .

Acute Palliative Care Units

Acute palliative care units (APCUs) are specialized hospital units that provide intensive symptom management and end-of-life care for patients with cancer who have the highest level of distress and complexity. In this model, patients are admitted to APCUs from other hospital settings or from the community when their symptoms cannot be adequately managed elsewhere. APCUs are staffed by multidisciplinary palliative care teams that offer comprehensive supportive care in a comfortable and homelike environment. APCUs can improve symptom control, quality of life, and quality of death for patients with cancer . However, some of the challenges of this model include limited availability and capacity of APCUs, as well as potential barriers to access or referral to APCUs .

Community-Based Palliative Care

Community-based palliative care is a model that provides home-based or outpatient palliative care services for patients with cancer who have a poor performance status and low to moderate symptom burden. In this model, palliative care specialists visit patients at home or in other community settings, such as nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Community-based palliative care can reduce hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and costs, as well as improve patient satisfaction, quality of life, and caregiver burden . However, some of the challenges of this model include limited availability and coverage of community-based palliative care services, as well as potential difficulties in coordination and communication between community-based and hospital-based providers .

Hospice Care

Hospice care is a model that provides end-of-life care for patients with cancer who have a prognosis of less than six months and who have decided to forego curative or life-prolonging treatments. In this model, hospice teams provide physical, emotional, social, and spiritual support to patients and families at home or in other settings, such as hospice facilities or nursing homes. Hospice care can improve symptom control, quality of life, quality of death, and bereavement outcomes for patients with cancer . However, some of the challenges of this model include late or underutilization of hospice services by patients with cancer, as well as potential misconceptions or stigma associated with hospice care .

Conclusion

Palliative care delivery models for patients with cancer vary in their settings, populations served, intensity of services provided, and goals of care. Each model has its own benefits and challenges for patients with cancer and their families. The optimal model of palliative care delivery depends on the individual needs and preferences of each patient with cancer. Therefore, it is important to assess the patient’s needs regularly and adjust the model accordingly. Palliative care should be integrated early and throughout the course of cancer treatment to provide comprehensive and holistic care for patients with cancer and their families.

Bibliography

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