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Palliative care improves outcomes for seniors
Date:12/10/2012

Seniors in long-term care experienced a significant reduction in emergency room visits and depression when receiving palliative care services, according to a recent collaborative study by researchers at Hebrew SeniorLife's Hebrew Rehabilitation Center (HRC) and Institute for Aging Research, both affiliated with Harvard Medical School (HMS).

The results of the study, published today in The Gerontologist, demonstrate the potential for improved end-of-life quality of care when palliative services are implemented in a long-term care setting.

The researchers analyzed the composite outcomes of utilization patterns, depression, pain and other clinical indicators of 250 long-term care patients at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center, half of whom received palliative care services, over a two-year period. Those who received palliative care had about half as many emergency room visits and significantly less depression.

"The national health care crisis has created a mandate to cut costs while improving care for millions of aging Americans who would otherwise experience frequent hospitalizations and futile aggressive care in their last months," says Jody Comart, Ph.D., palliative care director at Hebrew SeniorLife and the study's lead author.

"Many patients and families fear a painful, undignified death. The palliative care team is an elegant model that can improve care for long-term care residents and, at the same time bring down costs. This study showed a decrease in emergency room visits for palliative care patients, avoiding an often frightening event for patients and families, while decreasing the high cost of this expensive service for our health care system.

The Palliative Care Program at HRC combines medical, emotional and spiritual support services provided by an interdisciplinary team a palliative care physician, clinical nurse specialist, chaplain, social worker and psychologist providing the expertise and structure for improved sympto
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Contact: Melinda Pryor
mpryor@schneiderpr.com
617-646-3347
Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research
Source:Eurekalert

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