September is Pain Awareness Month and a perfect opportunity to focus on awareness of issues in the area of pain and pain management. It’s also a great time to talk about palliative care. For those that don’t know what palliative care is, it is a type of care that focuses on pain and symptom management and places attention on the patient rather than the disease or illness. Palliative care can be provided anywhere – home, hospital, assisted living facility or nursing facility.
Cedar Valley Hospice staff are trained experts in this area and we also offer a program, LINK, specifically for palliative care. LINK stands for Listen, Inform, Navigate and Knowledge and was developed to provide supportive care to those individuals and families facing a life-limiting illness and don’t yet qualify for hospice, or simply aren’t ready for hospice. The goals of LINK are: listen to patients and families, inform patients and families of resources in their communities, navigate the current health care system and educate patients and family members on health care choices and treatments.
Patients on the LINK program receive visits from a nurse and social worker that offer support, companionship and assistance. Someone might consider LINK if they have recurrent hospital admission for an advanced illness, difficulty managing symptoms, family conflicts regarding course of treatment or distress, anxiety or loss of hope. To be eligible for LINK, patients must be diagnosed with an advanced stage of a life limiting illness with a physical and/or psychosocial need.
The difference between LINK and hospice is LINK patients can still be seeking a cure for their illness. All hospice care is palliative but not all palliative care is hospice. Many patients on LINK might qualify for hospice but may not be ready to take that step yet.
LINK social worker, Erin Hubbard, says this program is beneficial to help those who may qualify for hospice in the future be prepared and know not to be afraid of making that transition to hospice.
Erin’s favorite part of her job is building relationships with patients and coming into their lives at a time when they need support, guidance and direction.
“We help ease the stress of their diagnosis and help patients make necessary decisions,” Erin said.
Having a palliative care program is another quality that makes Cedar Valley Hospice unique. Palliative care provides a way for those with a life-limiting illness or chronic pain to take control of their lives which helps improve quality of life. For questions on palliative care or the LINK program or to find out how LINK can help you or your loved ones, click here or call Cedar Valley Hospice at 319.272.2002.