- People with Disabilities
What do you think of when you read the term “palliative care”? If you’re like many people, you might not be familiar with it.
But if you’re coping with a serious illness or disability, it’s something you and your loved ones will want to know about.
Palliative care can improve your quality of life, keep you comfortably in your home—and research says it may even help you live longer.
“Palliative care is about relieving suffering at any stage of an illness, whether you’re managing a serious chronic condition, like lung or heart disease, or dealing with a life-limiting disability,” explains J. Redwing Keyssar, RN, Director of JFCS’ Palliative Care Program.
A long-time advocate and palliative care innovator, Redwing understands that at-home support for many non-medical needs is “medically necessary” and the JFCS Palliative Care Program works with clients and their loved ones to develop a plan to coordinate their medical, psychosocial, and spiritual needs.
Unique Social Service Model
Nine years ago J. Redwing Keyssar established the Palliative Care program as an expansion of JFCS’ senior services division, Seniors at Home.
JFCS is the only social service agency in California to offer palliative care, and while most palliative programs function as part of a medical model or hospital, JFCS’ program is unique in that it operates under a social service model.
It’s also one of the few community based palliative care programs in California, offering services to anyone in the community—not just hospital patients.
Since the program began 2000 families have taken advantage of its compassionate services and 160 palliative care volunteers have been trained to provide an additional layer of support to clients who are ill or have a disability.
Another one of the program’s goals is to advance and broaden the conversation about palliative care, serious illness, and death and dying, and the program has sponsored and participated in over 100 educational events throughout the Bay Area.
Looking at the Whole Person—Not Just the Patient
Many people receiving palliative care are going through aggressive treatment and often, understandably, are overwhelmed. The JFCS palliative care team makes life more manageable. They’re available to answer questions, triage with doctors, and offer practical and emotional support.
Palliative care looks not only at the “client.” It looks at the whole person—their goals, needs and choices.
JFCS Palliative Care Task Force Offers a Roadmap for Future Growth
This past year, JFCS spearheaded a Palliative Care Task Force in order to look at the progress of the program and consider how it will focus its energy in the years to come in order to meet the increasing request for services.
Nancy Goldberg, Past JFCS President, is the Palliative Care Task Force Chair. Task Force members also include doctors, nurses, volunteers, and other passionate supporters from throughout the Bay Area who are interested in alleviating suffering through palliative care.
Tackling the Growing Need
In order to sustain and grow the Palliative Care Program JFCS is looking to raise $250,000, with a three year commitment. The funds will be used to hire an additional palliative care nurse and a social worker.
The added skilled staff members would provide volunteer training throughout our regions, expand the Palliative Care lecture series, and most importantly, increase the number of patients who are in need of this important service.
“As our aging population expands, additional resources will be needed to relieve the suffering of our loved ones,” says Redwing. “It is clear that social supports are medically necessary to uphold the dignity of those who are ill or coping with a disability— to keep them as independent and as comfortable as possible— as well as to support their family systems.”
If you would like to donate to help expand the Palliative Care Program, please contact Barbara Farber at [email protected] or 415-449-3858.
Partial funding for the JFCS’ Palliative Care Program is provided by generous individual support, foundation grants, named endowment funds and the Circle of Life Endowment Fund established by our Palliative Care volunteers.