What Is Comfort Care?

hospice care worker with senior woman at home

Confused about comfort care and what it entails? Let’s clear things up to give you a better understanding of how it works.

What Does It Mean When Someone Is Put On Comfort Care?

Comfort care relieves symptoms and optimizes comfort when a patient is dying. When patients no longer benefit from curative medical treatment, comfort care can improve the quality of life. This ensures a more positive experience that would otherwise be lacking without it.

Unlike almost any other form of medical care, comfort care does not try to actively cure or treat a disease or illness; only on reducing the impact of disease symptoms when the patient reaches the end of life stage. Additionally, this type of service can be provided at home, in nursing homes, or at a hospital.

Who Receives Comfort Care?

Patients who are admitted to the hospital multiple times during treatment are usually more likely to receive comfort care. Once it is clear that additional treatment is unlikely to have a beneficial impact, it can be provided if the patient wishes.

Comfort and palliative care are the same thing and are suitable for patients who wish to focus on quality rather than quantity in the last few days of their lives. In some cases, shifting to comfort care can extend the patient’s lifespan, while aggressive treatment may serve to shorten it.

Moreover, comfort care is typical among patients with cancer, dementia, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or Alzheimer’s, among others. In addition, it can help reduce symptoms like shortness of breath and breathing trouble, nausea, vomiting, and constipation.

Patients can receive medicine and various forms of treatment to solve these problems, as well as pain, insomnia, or anxiety. Treatments are designed to favor comforts rather than cures. A good example of comfort care treatments is pain relief management.

Comfort of Care

The main purpose of end-of-life care is to ensure the physical and emotional well-being of the patient. Whether in a nursing home, hospital bed, or home residence, it works to reduce discomfort and suffering rather than improve health.

Medications are provided by the overseeing physician to keep the patient as comfortable as possible. The spiritual needs of ill patients are also met to ensure that all needs and services related to terminal care are available.

The NIA (National Institute on Aging) believes that comfort care is an essential part of terminal illness care. As such, there needs to be more focus on training all doctors to provide hospice care. What’s more, physicians need to be capable of providing spiritual and emotional support to dying patients and their family members.

Hospice often comes with physiological concerns, so it’s important for the family to have someone to talk to about what they are feeling. With more attention on hospice training and all that it entails, we can better support those who need it.

This would also allow the patient and their family to have a clearer understanding of what to expect from hospice. It’s not uncommon for loved ones to oppose taking the patient off of aggressive treatment for a symptom and moving to something without the goal of making them better. Medical professionals need to be able to educate everyone involved so that the transition to hospice is easier.

Hospice Care

Hospice and Palliative care are one and the same. Moreover, the care and comfort of both the patients and their families benefit from hospice. This includes support for anyone providing care services, not just the quality of life of the patient.

End-of-life care often involves many caregivers, from those providing emotional support to physical care, such as the doctor and their team. In addition to pain control and comfort, the hospice team can include a social worker, music therapy, chaplain, and other members.

How Long Can Comfort Care Be Provided?

In most cases, the patient must be given a prognosis that they have six months or less to live, according to the NHPCO (National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization). At this juncture, comfort care is typically provided until death.

It’s important to speak with one of our specialists if you need more information. You can also navigate our services menu to help you better understand hospice. Transitioning to comfort care is often much easier for everyone involved when you know what to expect.