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Up Close: A Field Guide to Community-Based Palliative Care in California

Kate Meyers, Kathleen Kerr of Kerr Healthcare Analytics, and J. Brian Cassel of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine

Palliative care is taking root to serve people with advanced illness in clinics and homes. Over 20 community-based programs in California share their promising practices.

Health systems across the US are recognizing the importance of palliative care: specialized, interdisciplinary care that attends to the physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs of people with serious illnesses, and their family members. While inpatient palliative care programs have proliferated, community-based programs — those that offer services at a clinic, in a patient's residence, or over the phone — are far less prevalent, and those that do exist have developed in relative isolation.

In 2013 the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) launched the Palliative Care Action Community (PCAC) to promote collaboration among organizations working to strengthen or expand their community-based palliative care (CBPC) services. Participating provider teams represented diverse types of organizations, provided services in a variety of settings, and came with varying levels of CBPC experience. Despite these differences, the teams shared common approaches and challenges in program planning, operations, and evaluation.

Up Close: A Field Guide to Community-Based Palliative Care in California describes the main characteristics of these programs, the challenges they faced, and the promising practices they have developed. It also includes the opinions and experiences of many of the experts who interacted with the action community participants. The field guide is intended for providers interested in starting new CBPC programs as well as those who want to sustain, strengthen, or expand existing ones.

A set of fact sheets on Innovative Models in Palliative Care summarizes presentations by field experts that were prepared for the PCAC. Topics covered include the ENABLE Telemedicine Intervention, Patient Care Connect's layperson health advisory model, the Patient Support Corps, use of technology in CBPC, and Zen Hospice Project's volunteer program.

The field guide and fact sheets are available as Document Downloads.