If you are receiving care for a serious illness, we want to help you and your family address the many other issues that can also arise—such as distressing side effects, practical concerns, emotional issues, end-of-life decisions and more. Our aim is to increase your comfort level, improve your quality of life and help you function as well as you possibly can. A supportive team can really make a difference when working in partnership with your oncologist.
Supportive Care Services
If you and your primary doctor are not able to control your pain, experts in the Sutter Health network will work with you to develop a personalized pain control plan. Options include:
- Non-opioid medications, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen and steroids.
- Opioid medications, such as morphine, oxycodone and fentanyl.
- Nerve blocks — A medication that's injected into the nerves that are sending pain signals to your brain, or the area around the nerves, cutting off the signals.
- Neurosurgery — The nerves that are sending pain signals to the brain are cut, cutting off the signals.
- Nuclear medicine — Radiation therapy is used to shrink a tumor that is pressing on other tissues and causing pain.
Palliative care services help patients and their loved ones address a wide variety of physical, practical, emotional and spiritual needs. It’s appropriate for anyone experiencing a serious illness, at any stage of the illness. In the Sutter Health network, we can:
- Treat pain and other symptoms and side effects that are interfering with your life (fatigue, shortness of breath, constipation, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, insomnia and more).
- Coordinate your care with healthcare providers and family caretakers.
- Help you find other needed services in your community, as well as help for practical issues like transportation to appointments and financial assistance.
- Help you make decisions about advance care planning and directives.
- Provide emotional support to ease loneliness, fears, stress, isolation and family challenges.
Your palliative care team may include specially trained doctors, nurses, social workers, dietitians, physical therapists and other specialists as needed. All are highly experienced in helping people who are facing serious health challenges.
Hospice care services are similar to palliative care, and can include help with physical, practical, emotional, and spiritual needs when you are dealing with a serious health issue. Patients who take part in hospice services, however, are generally in the last six months of their lives, and are no longer receiving any treatment that is intended to cure the disease.
In addition to all of the comfort care aspects of palliative care, our hospice professionals help patients and their loved ones prepare for the end of life, and make any necessary decisions related to that.