Every day, caregivers and families are having difficult conversations while huddled in hospital hallways or in hushed voices beside the bed of a terminally ill loved one. They talk about the care the person should be receiving, or debate what the person would want done – or not done – to prolong life.
These last-minute conversations complicate what is already an emotionally distressing and draining time and, often fail to honor the individual's wishes.
A national initiative called The Conversation Project was launched in late 2012 to help people start those important conversations well before illness or old age sets in, and to have every person's end-of-life wishes expressed and respected.
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Care New England is part of the campaign, which was co-founded by Pulitzer Prize-winner Ellen Goodman and developed in collaboration with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.
"Care New England is committed to providing the best possible care for our patients throughout their lives and including the end of their lives," explains Kate M. Lally, MD, FACP, director of Palliative Care at Kent Hospital and medical director of the VNA of Care New England. "We want to provide care that is consistent with a patient and family's wishes.
"We all need to think about whether we want care focused on comfort at the end of our lives, or aggressive treatment as long as possible."
The Conversation Project is just one element of Care New England's sharpened focus on palliative care, or the care of the various needs of patients and their families dealing with terminal illness.
"The goal is to help patients maintain the best possible quality of life through pain management and symptom control, as well as helping them continue their regular daily lives as much as possible," Dr. Lally says. "Palliative care is a complement to traditional medical therapies."
Learn more about palliative care by visiting our website or by calling (401) 737-7010, ext. 4298.