Palliative care nurse practitioners play a critical role in ensuring that children with serious illnesses are comfortable as they receive curative treatments. They are responsible for coordinating care plans, helping family caregivers understand how to provide the best care, and answering questions about your loved one’s condition. They also help manage pain and perform assessments throughout the day. Palliative care nurse practitioners provide valuable resources and information, acting as one of the main care providers during your loved one’s illness. That’s why it’s important to understand how your nurse practitioner prefers to work and what you can expect from them.
Here are 6 questions to ask your palliative care nurse practitioner before beginning care. These questions will help you get a better sense of how your individual nurse practitioner prefers to work and what’s available within the palliative care program you selected, while conveying what matters to you most and where your concerns lie.
What Can We Expect from Palliative Care?
Palliative care generally includes services that help children feel physically and emotionally at ease in their own home and offers additional emotional support for their family members. The type of services offered will depend on your loved one’s needs and the resources that your palliative care provider has as well. Asking a nurse practitioner what to expect when it comes to the type of care received, the schedule on which it will be provided, and other details can help you feel more confident in the care plan and be better prepared for it to begin.
How Will You Communicate with the Doctors?
Nurse practitioners are one of several palliative care team members, including doctors, and must communicate clearly with them and with medical professionals who are not part of the palliative care team but provide curative treatments and other services. It’s important that all of these people receive accurate information in a timely manner, so ask about your nurse practitioner’s communication strategies and how you can help ensure everyone involved in your loved one’s care has what they need each day.
Will you be Able to Help Explain the Illness to the Family?
People who are not involved in health care as part of their everyday jobs may find it difficult to explain and understand medical terminology, diagnoses, and illnesses, particularly young siblings. A nurse practitioner should be able to help parents understand their child’s diagnosis, then explain any relevant information to other family members. This helps everyone understand what to expect as their loved one receives care and as their illness changes.
What Are Your Recommendations for Care?
While the palliative care team will provide valuable care for your loved one, your primary care physicians will be your main point of contact. Asking the nurse practitioner what they recommend for care when medical professionals are unable to assist will help you give your loved one better care every day. This information can also help other friends and family members who are not as closely connected to the details of your loved one’s illness when they spend time together or visit.
What Decisions Will My Family Need to Make?
Decisions will need to be made at every stage of your loved one’s illness. What medication and equipment should be used? Can they live at home? What therapies are best? And, if they do not recover, what type of end of life care is ideal? An experienced nurse practitioner can help you answer all of these questions and more. They can also provide an overview of these decisions before they occur, outlining points at which an illness’s usual progression will necessitate decision-making to help you better prepare for these choices.
Thanks to their extensive education and experience in handling questions and needs from a wide range of children and their families, palliative care nurse practitioners are well equipped to help every child and family, no matter what. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need while you navigate your loved one’s illness. Palliative care nurse practitioners want the best for you and your family and are always willing to provide whatever information they can to facilitate that goal, so it’s best to ask them for the information you need both for your own peace of mind and for your loved one’s benefit, too.