When you or a loved one are faced with a cancer diagnosis, lives change. Suddenly, emotional, spiritual, physical, and financial demands take over, often with little or no preparation.
Supportive care is specialized medical care for people with serious illness. It is focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of that illness. The goals of supportive care are to improve quality of life and reduce the physical and emotional burdens of cancer. Bothersome symptoms, such as pain or fatigue, may be relieved by addressing physical, social, psychological and spiritual needs that are contributing factors.
Who provides supportive care?
Supportive care is provided by a team that includes a nurse practitioner, nurse, social worker, and other healthcare specialists with expertise in supportive care and symptom management for cancer patients. This team works together with a patient’s oncologist to provide an extra layer of support.
When is supportive care needed?
Supportive care is available to help whenever there is a need, from the point of a cancer diagnosis through the end of life. It is appropriate for any stage of cancer and can be provided at any point in the treatment continuum, including right along with curative treatment.
Situations where the Supportive Care team may be able to help include:
- Assessment and treatment of pain
- Decreasing side effects such as: pain, fatigue, constipation, weight loss, weakness, shortness of breath, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, and depression
- Support for physical, emotional, social and spiritual distress for patients or family
- Transitioning from aggressive medical care to comfort-oriented care
- Assistance with advanced care planning to match patient's goals of care with appropriate treatments
- End-of-life care
What happens at a supportive care visit?
Patients are welcome to include loved ones and supportive friends in a supportive care visit.
During the supportive care visit, a complete assessment is performed and as the patient’s unique situation is determined, the team uses its collaborative approach to:
- Focus on easing suffering
- Offer treatment options
- Provide symptom relief
- Initiate specialty referrals appropriate
Supportive care creates a safe environment for opening doors of communication. We understand how patients and their families who are facing a cancer diagnosis often feel alone and overwhelmed. Our goal is to listen, lessen the burdens, and strengthen the whole person in the midst of those changes.