Palliative care is specialized medical care that focuses on relieving the symptoms, pain, and stress of serious illness, which is critically important for the older adult population. While often confused with being only about end-of-life and hospice care, palliative care provides the extra layer of support needed by people and their families dealing with serious illness at any point in their lives. Palliative care principles and practices can also help organizations achieve both better quality and financial viability.
Our most recent annual report celebrated the John A. Hartford Foundation’s 30-year commitment to improving the health of older adults. As part of the online, interactive version of the report, we asked some of our long-time grantees to help us tell the Foundation’s story by sharing short and sweet video messages about our past successes, our current projects, and our new directions.
We want to highlight a few of these brief video clips, each only about one minute long, and invite you to browse and share the other messages in our dynamic online annual report.
In this first video, David Reuben, director of the Multicampus Program in Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology and director of the Hartford Center of Excellence in Geriatric Medicine at UCLA, points out the changes he’s seen over the past three decades in how geriatrics is incorporated into medical student education. Dr. Reuben was a beneficiary of the 1983 Hartford Geriatrics Faculty Development Awards, Hartford’s earliest program to build up the field of geriatrics.
Communicating with persons and their families about serious illness and complex health care decisions is a skill that requires training and practice just like any other medical procedure, according to Diane Meier, director of theCenter to Advance Palliative Care. Dr. Meier offers health care professionals ten critical steps to follow when having difficult conversations, such as with someone whose scans have shown progression of an incurable cancer.
While physicians, nurses, and others specializing in palliative care — which adds an extra layer of support to provide relief from symptoms, pain, and stress associated with serious illness — can be expected to have mastery over this kind of communication, most health care providers don’t receive adequate training in this essential skill. Delivering “bad news” is something that all health professionals need to be ready to do, in a way that gives patients ownership and control over the exchange of information, focuses on listening to the patient more than talking, and allows people to be the “captain of their medical ship,” just as Dr. Meier describes.
At the American Geriatrics Society meeting a few weeks ago, I—along with most of the attendees—was spellbound by Dr. Diane Meier‘s Henderson Award lecture on the issues confronting geriatrics and palliative care and our profound failure to deliver useful care to those with incurable serious illnesses.
In the fourth installment of our Beyond the Boardroom series, Senior Program Officer Rachael Watman interviews Diane Meier, MD, FACP, Professor of Geriatrics and Internal Medicine and Catherine Gaisman Professor of Medical Ethics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, as well as Director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC). A longtime Foundation grantee, Dr. Meier is a leader and pioneer in the field of palliative care, publishing extensively on the importance of palliative care in managing serious and terminal illness.
In addition to her work with CAPC and Mt. Sinai, Dr. Meier was a 2009-2010 Health and Aging Policy Fellow (HAPF). The program afforded her a year in Washington, DC, allowing her to forge relationships with health care policymakers. Watch the video below for an overview of Dr. Meier’s HAPF experience, which she calls “transformational,” an update on the continued adoption of palliative care in hospital settings, and a discussion of the similarities between palliative care and geriatrics.