Have you been thinking about how to get a palliative care program started in your institution, practice, or agency? Or perhaps your current program is evaluating how it is doing and needs some guidance to refocus its energies. Or maybe you want to get some resources to help others in your work setting. Not sure where to go for guidance? The National Consensus Project for Quality Palliative Care just released the third edition, which will give you this information in its publication The Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care.
The mission of this project is to create clinical practice guidelines to improve the quality of palliative care in the United States. These guidelines serve as a manual or blueprint to create new programs and guide developing programs. The emphasis is on interdisciplinary collaboration between levels of professionals as well as institutions and agencies including hospitals, home health agencies, hospices, and out-patient care. These guidelines were developed by experts representing the leading palliative care and hospice organizations.
Specifically, the Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care promote quality palliative care, foster consistent and high standards in palliative care, and encourage continuity of care across settings. There are eight domains of care that should be part of a palliative care program¹:
- Domain 1: Structure and Processes of Care
- Domain 2: Physical Aspects of Care
- Domain 3: Psychological and Psychiatric Aspects
- Domain 4: Social Aspects of Care
- Domain 5: Spiritual, Religious, and Existential Aspects of Care
- Domain 6: Cultural Aspects of Care
- Domain 7: Care of the Patient at the End of Life
- Domain 8: Ethical and Legal Aspects of Care
These areas are delineated in great detail in the guidelines and the elements of best-practice are also described.
Here is an example: Domain 2 entitled “Physical Aspects of Care” includes guidelines for effective management of pain and other symptoms based on best evidence. Then the components of an effective symptom management plan with multiple references to guide the clinician in such areas as assessment tools are listed. Resources for evaluating quality can be obtained from these guidelines.
A rich reference list at the end of the publication will further guide clinicians to all aspects of palliative care.
I'm sure there are many other resources out there but this is a great way to get started if you are interested in building a program at your own institution.
I would love to hear about your program and whether the above guidelines had any influence in development process.