Palliative Care

The Palliative Care program at El Camino Health helps people and families cope with serious illness, whatever the prognosis.

Helping Families Cope With Serious Illness

If you or your loved one is facing a serious illness — whatever the diagnosis or prognosis — El Camino Health's Palliative Care program is designed for you.

Palliative care helps you and your family cope with serious illness. Our primary purpose is to help you live as fully and comfortably as possible. We can provide care, support and resources to help improve quality of life for you and your family.

Research has shown that patients who receive palliative care early in their illness have fewer symptoms, can participate in treatment for longer periods of time, and have better outcomes. Whether your illness is curable, life-limiting, life-threatening, or chronic and long-term, talk to your doctor about palliative care.

Specializing in Making Your Life Better

Our palliative care team includes specialists who can address all your needs — physical, emotional and spiritual. This whole-person care also includes support for your family and the people who care for you.

At El Camino Health, physicians, nurse practitioners (NPs), nurses, social workers, pharmacists and spiritual care counselors (chaplains) contribute to your care and help create your care plan. Our NPs — specially trained nurses who can assess your needs and prescribe medications — direct much of the care, and our physicians assist with more complex cases and decisions.

Our NPs and physicians are specially trained and experienced in providing palliative care. They won’t replace your current healthcare providers or doctors. Our team works alongside your primary care doctor to provide care tailored to your needs and goals.

How We Help

A first step in palliative care is helping you understand your illness and what it means for you and your family — and ensuring your values and beliefs guide medical treatment decisions. We call this setting "Goals of Care."

One of the most important goals of palliative care is reducing pain and other distressing and uncomfortable symptoms of illness or side effects of treatment. Some of the symptoms we can treat effectively include:

  • Pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Depression or grief
  • Difficulty with the activities of daily living (ADL)

Our palliative care team can also:

  • Provide care planning for advanced illness, to help you and your family prepare for future decision-making. If your illness is likely to progress, we can help anticipate how your needs might change. We'll help identify "pivot points" when you might want to change from curative to comfort care.
  • Help you with healthcare decisions such as feeding tubes, ventilators and dialysis. Your palliative care team can help you weigh the pros and cons of various treatments. 
  • Assist with advance healthcare directives and Physicians Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatments (POLSTs). You can create a Five Wishes advance directive in myCare to make your preferences known. We can help to ensure your instructions are communicated and followed.
  • Provide social support to help you and your family navigate community resources and services that can help make your life easier or better.
  • Offer emotional and spiritual support that aligns with your personal belief system. Our chaplains can offer a caring presence and comfort for you and your family when you need it.
  • Provide end-of-life care if needed. We can help your family decide on hospice care (for those who are expected to live no more than six months) and how to provide comfort care. Palliative care ensures the patient is provided all treatments to ensure dignity and comfort during the dying process and to support the family through this difficult time.

When to Get Palliative Care

Palliative care can help you through all stages of illness. It's best when introduced early in your care. You can begin palliative care during a hospital stay or after being discharged.

When you are ready to go home, you may be able to continue palliative care through your doctor's medical group or a community clinic where available. Just ask your doctor for a referral. If it is difficult to go to a clinic, you may qualify for a home palliative care program. Many home health agencies provide palliative care, including El Camino Health's partner, Pathways Home Health, Hospice & Private Duty.

For more information, call the El Camino Health palliative care team at 650-988-7624 or email us.