Palliative care is a necessary inclusion in the care of all people with a serious illness, no matter the diagnosis or setting, and it’s the responsibility all healthcare providers, including specialty providers in oncology.

The National Consensus Project (NCP) expanded on these two key tenets in its new release of the fourth edition of the Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care. ONS is one of 80 organizations endorsing the new guidelines.

The guidelines, which are divided into seven domains, serve to guide healthcare providers and organizations in incorporating palliative care principles throughout the care continuum for patients with serious illnesses such as cancer. The new edition weaves five added key themes throughout each domain:

  • Specific elements of a comprehensive assessment
  • Importance of family caregiver assessment, support, and education
  • The essential role of care coordination, especially during care transitions
  • Value of culturally inclusive palliative care
  • Emphasis of communication as a prerequisite for delivering quality palliative care

 In the summary article presenting the guidelines, NCP called for improved access to palliative care. Hospital-based palliative care and hospice are often widely available, but reliable access to community-based palliative care is less so. NCP emphasized the need for new community-based palliative care models that are delivered by healthcare providers in primary care and specialty practices such as oncology, in patient homes, medical offices or clinics, cancer centers, assisted and long-term care facilities, and other settings.