End-of-Life Choice, Palliative Care and Counseling

Bringing Palliative Care Into the Conversationby Sonja

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by Dana Sitar
Seven Ponds
October 4, 2012

California State University is tackling a shortage in palliative care workers by launching the first statewide educational and workforce development initiative dedicated specifically to palliative care. With an aging population and an increase in the number of people living with serious illness, health care systems are facing the challenge of providing the care our population needs, and the CSU Institute for Palliative Care will help overcome that challenge.

“Our aging society requires a qualified palliative care workforce that can support people’s desire for quality of life, independence, and choice and control in their health care decisions,” said Joseph Prevratil, CEO and President of Archstone Foundation, which provided initial grant funding for the Institute, along with California HealthCare Foundation.

The CSU Institute for Palliative Care at CSU-San Marcos will offer palliative care training for professionals, and it will educate the public about the value of palliative care and how to access it. This public awareness will be invaluable to those who would benefit from palliative care but know so little about it.

“More people than ever before are living with one or more chronic conditions, and while palliative care can do so much to help, its role and benefits are not well understood,” said CSU Institute for Palliative Care Executive Director, Helen McNeal. “The CSU Institute for Palliative Care will educate people and make them aware of their options and the resources available to them through our community partners.”

In a health care system still preoccupied with finding a cure, palliative care focuses on improving the quality of life for those facing serious illness or death. The care acknowledges everyone’s right to quality at the end of life, and offers comfort and care when it’s most needed. Physicians, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, chaplain, and others work together to provide help for patients and families facing this difficult and confusing time of life.

Launched by the largest higher-education system in the U.S., the CSU Institute for Palliative Care at CSUSM will create a model for other CSU campuses, as well as other campuses across the country. It will offer continuing education courses for working professionals, academic curriculum for today’s students and programs to support palliative care awareness in the community.

“Palliative care reduces suffering and has been shown to significantly improve quality of life, patient satisfaction and health outcomes for people facing serious illnesses,” said CSUSM President, Karen Haynes. “We are very pleased to be giving this important Institute its start here at Cal State San Marcos and to begin addressing this critical workforce need in not only our region but the state and nation as well.”