We empowerourpatients forabetterqualityoflife. C O N C O R D H O S P I T A L A N N U A L R E P O R T 2 0 1 7 49 LauraBerman,MSW,LICSW,palliativecaresocialworkcounselor PalliativeCareteamaddressesmedical,socialandspiritualcare ofpatientsandfamilies When people are seriously ill, their condition creates a ripple effect that touches everyone who cares about them. The Capital Region Palliative Care and Hospice team works to make sure those ripples don’t overwhelm patients or their loved ones – offering medical, social and spiritual help to support patients and the people who make up their support system. Palliative care may be appropriate for patients at any age and at any stage of a serious illness and can be provided along with other treatments.This differs from hospice care, which is end-of-life care for patients who have decided they no longer wish to have aggressive medical treatment.The goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life while considering one’s unique needs.The Palliative Care team, which was established in 2015, works closely with the patient’s healthcare providers, recommending ways to help improve the patient’s quality of life during treatment.The recommendations might involve managing pain or easing depression and anxiety for the patient and the family. “Sometimes when people are seriously ill, family roles are forced to shift, causing additional stress within the family. Patients are not always able to function the way they used to and the family has to figure out how to fill those gaps,”said Laura Berman, the team’s Licensed Independent Clinical SocialWorker (LICSW). Family members who step in as caregivers also face burnout trying to balance their new role, their job and other responsibilities. “I think it can be comforting to people to know that we have been through this before with other patients and families,”Berman said. “We are here to walk that journey with you.” As a social worker, Berman helps patients and their families understand their conditions and treatment options, and manage anxiety, depression or stress. She helps the team offer options other than medication, such as aromatherapy or relaxation and breathing techniques. The Palliative Care team also includes a physician, spiritual care counselor, three nurse practitioners, a physician assistant and nurse navigator. Multiple members of the team frequently see patients together in Concord Hospital, in their doctor’s office, in nursing homes and in their homes. A key goal is providing accurate information so patients are empowered about their treatment options. It begins with asking patients what they understand about their condition and options, because often the stress of an illness makes it difficult for patients to comprehend a doctor’s message. “We are trying to provide the information we would want to have if we were in their position, then they can make the choice that’s right for them,”Berman said. LauraBerman,MSW,LICSW CONCORD HOSPITAL PALLIATIVE CARE SOCIAL WORK COUNSELOR