Chapter 1: Paramedics and Palliative Care


The palliative care expert says
Dr. Alix Carter talks about the positive impact for families of paramedics providing palliative care. (3:22)
Paramedics have a strong skill set for palliative care(3:22)Video transcript
The paramedic says
Cheryl describes the shift in goals in palliative care calls. (3:22)Video transcript

Supporting the dying patient and those around them has always been a component of paramedic practice. Supporting an expected death in a home is a natural extension.

To achieve the best outcomes, an expected death at home requires excellence in paramedic practice. This includes:

  • Assessing medical, support and information needs of the patient and those affected.
  • Formulating a care plan that includes symptom management and patient support.
  •  Implementing the care plan.
  •  Supporting those affected.

Variations in palliative care calls include:

  •  Re-evaluating medical assessment and diagnostics.
  • Increased focus on supporting those in attendance, often family. 
  • Collaborating with members of the patients healthcare team.

Learning Objectives:

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  1. Identify the characteristics of a palliative care call.
  2. Summarize how events at end of life can be unpredictable.
  3. Describe the paramedic’s critical role in providing support for palliative and end of life patients.
  4. Identify common factors of the paramedic work environment that may present unique challenges when providing support to patients receiving palliative and end of life care.
  5. List common grief reactions and recognize common impacts on both patients and family members.
  6. Identify multiple factors that affect grief.
  7. Summarize multiple myths about grief reactions.

NOTE to learners:  

These modules have been developed to apply to students as well as paramedics with multiple years of experience. 

Throughout the modules, you’ll find suggested phrases to use in conversations with patients and families. Some of the language isn’t common to paramedic practice. Integrating this new language in palliative care calls will help you to establish relationships, have difficult conversations and provide support.