On the afternoon of January 16, 2018 Marian Beems, Convent Administrator at Saint Joseph Villa, welcomed the sisters gathered in the new
Villa Gathering Space
to begin to explore with them the concept of Palliative Care. This was the first of several educational programs that will be presented to sisters, residents and staff. Marian explained, “At its core, palliative care seeks to prevent and alleviate suffering — physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual. It puts the person at the center of his or her own care.”
Marian then introduced
Sister Patricia O’Neill SSJ, RN
to further explain what is planned for palliative care at the Villa. Pat is a member of the Steering Committee on Palliative Care, and will assist the doctors and nurses to determine who will qualify for palliative care.
Several years ago Pat recuperated at the Villa after knee surgery and was impressed by the care she received from doctors, nurses and staff. But, she experienced something more. She says, “I thought of the Villa as a place to rehab. By the time I left I realized the Villa was a sanctuary. It is a sacred vessel because of the care one receives and also because of the care the sisters have for each other. I finally understood why we are blessed to call the Villa
Pat continued, “Palliative care is a team approach to patient-centered care provided by a team of specialists that include: primary doctor, nurses, social worker, dietician, pastoral care member and counselors. It is the comprehensive treatment of the discomfort, symptoms and stress of chronic or serious illness. It does not replace a patient’s primary treatment but enhances it. Abraham Lincoln said, ‘It’s not the years in your life, it’s the life in your years that matters.’ Palliative care provides that special life dimension to patients.
Palliative care strives to provide an individual with relief from distressing symptoms including pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, problems with sleep and many other issues. Emotional and spiritual support is also a key point in the program. Perhaps, most important, palliative care can help to improve quality of life.
Palliative Care is not Hospice Care. Here at the Villa, we are talking about older individuals who have life altering diseases. It is for those who have grown weary of trying new procedures, visiting new doctors, starting new medications, worrying about side effects of meds, etc. We are looking for new ways to deal with the problems we do have, peace, comfort and freedom from pain. Emotional and spiritual support is also key in the program.
You many want to consider palliative care if you:
· suffer from pain or other symptoms due to serious/chronic illness
· experience physical or emotional pain that is NOT under control
· need help understanding your situation and coordinating your care
I am totally involved in the program and see its value and hope you will feel the same way. Palliative care can help to improve the quality of life of our sisters at the Villa with serious/chronic illnesses by matching treatments to their values and goals, reducing suffering, and treating the whole person — body, mind and spirit.”