Dr. Patricia A. Grady is Director of the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR). An internationally recognized researcher, Dr. Grady's scientific focus has primarily been in stroke, with emphasis on arterial stenosis and cerebral ischemia. She was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 1999 and is a member of several scientific organizations, including the Society for Neuroscience, the American Academy of Nursing, and the American Neurological Association. She is also a fellow of the American Stroke Association.
The NINR promotes and improves the health of individuals and families through research in chronic and acute diseases, health promotion and maintenance, symptom management, health disparities, caregiving, self-management, and the end of life. It also supports the training of new researchers.
What is palliative care?
Palliative care refers to the supportive care of patients with serious illnesses, as well as the supportive care that is available for family members. The goal is to increase the quality of life for the patient. It does not necessarily mean end of life or hospice care, although palliative care may be offered as part of these, too.
How does it work?
It is a comprehensive team approach that entails pain and symptom management, emotional support and counseling, and advanced care planning. A broad team of health professionals, from doctors and nurses to counselors, chaplains and social workers, provides the support.
Does palliative care replace normal treatment for a cure?
No. It augments the patient's clinical treatment.
Can I be treated at home?
Palliative care can be available in a variety of settings, even in the home. A number of team members may be involved.
Is palliative care only for old people?
Palliative care is important for all people who are dealing with serious and life-threatening illnesses. Much of the focus has been on the older population, but palliative care is very important for children and their families, too. Part of our goal is to raise awareness about that.
How are you spreading the word about palliative care for the young?
We have begun a national public awareness campaign called "Palliative Care: Conversations Matter™" (see accompanying article). The aim is to spark increased and continued awareness about the availability of palliative care throughout the course of serious illness among health professionals, pediatric patients, and their families.