What is Palliative Care?
Palliative Care uses comfort care with a focus on relieving suffering and controlling symptoms so that you can carry out day-to-day activities and continue to do what is most important to you. Palliative care aims to improve your quality of life – in your mind, body and spirit.
Palliative Care can be combined with treatment that is aimed at curing or controlling your illness. It can be started at the time of your diagnosis and may be provided throughout the course of the illness.
Am I eligible for Palliative Care?
Since Palliative Care is part of the VHA Standard Medical Benefits Package, all enrolled Veterans are eligible IF they meet the clinical need for the service. Copays may be charged for Palliative Care.
What services can I get?
Palliative Care is provided by an interdisciplinary team consisting of a medical provider, social worker, nurse, chaplain, mental health provider and perhaps others. The team’s focus is on identifying, respecting and providing help in achieving the Veteran’s goals of care, with support and care to address: physical symptoms, family coping, emotional or spiritual distress, and access to needed resources.
How do I decide if Palliative Care is right for me?
You can use a Veteran Decision Aid for Care at Home or in the Community to help you figure out what home care services or long term care services may best meet your needs now or in the future.
There's also a Caregiver Self-Assessment. It can help your caregiver identify their own needs and decide how much support they can offer to you. Having this information from your caregiver, along with the involvement of your care team and social worker, will help you reach short-term and long-term care decisions.
Ask your social worker for these resources or download copies from the Making Decisions page at www.va.gov/Geriatrics.
If Palliative Care seems right for you, talk with your primary care provider. You can also talk with your VA social worker about Palliative Care.
Palliative Care Services of VA Northern California
Palliative care is a type of care that aims to improve quality of life for patients, and to support their families, as they face problems associated with serious illness. The focus is on the prevention and relief of suffering, by means of early identification, careful assessment, and effective treatment for pain and other discomforts: physical, emotional, and spiritual.
Services available at Sacramento/Mather:
• Palliative Care Inpatient Consult Service: Monday-Friday
• Palliative Care Outpatient Clinic (Sacramento): Tuesday afternoons
• Palliative Care/Oncology Outpatient Clinic (Sacramento): Monday mornings
• Palliative Care Telehealth Outpatient Clinic is a collaboration between a Mather-based Palliative Care physician and a Veteran and RN from the VA Redding Clinic
Services available at East Bay/Martinez:
• Palliative Care Outpatient Clinic (Martinez): Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
• Palliative Care/Oncology Outpatient Clinic (Martinez): Thursday Mornings
• Palliative Care Outpatient Clinic (Oakland): Wednesday 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
• Martinez CREC Inpatient Hospice Unit: 24 hour inpatient service
Services from both VA Sacramento/Mather and VA East Bay/Martinez:
Home Based Primary Care (which includes Palliative Care) is a program to provide care in the Veterans’ homes. Hours of operation are Monday – Friday, with programs out of the East Bay and Sacramento Valley.
No Veteran Dies Alone Program is a program with screened and trained volunteers (some of the volunteers are Veterans). These volunteers will be available to sit with, and provide companionship for Veterans who are actively dying and have no relatives, friends or family and are alone. This program is currently active at the Sacramento VA Medical Center.
Hospice is a service provided to all Veterans who have a terminal illness with a prognosis of 6 months or less. Hospice services are provided by community agencies and services can be in the home or at a skilled nursing facility. Alternatively, inpatient hospice can be provided at the Martinez Center for Rehabilitation and Extended Care. Hospice has to be ordered by a provider and is coordinated by a social worker or nurse practitioner. If a Veteran or family is interested in hospice services, please contact the Veteran’s clinical provider, a social worker, or call one of the Palliative Care Resources listed above.
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