“Encouraging Comfort Care” publication and checklist for families

I read about a new publication titled “Encouraging Comfort Care.” Comfort care is the same thing as palliative care, where the focus is on the patient’s physical and mental comfort, rather than treatments to restore a person to good health. The publication is from the Alzheimer’s Association’s Greater Illinois Chapter so focuses on comfort care for dementia patients living in care facilities. But I think everyone — whether dealing with dementia or not, and whether caring for someone in a facility or not — will find value in this 21-page care planning booklet. 

Here’s a link to “Encouraging Comfort Care”: 


According to the table of contents, these topics are covered: 
What is comfort care? 
Facts about dementia 
How the brain and body change over time 
Dementia and residential care facilities 
Comfort care in action 
Medical decisions you may face 
What does research tell us? 
Who decides? 
How to create meaningful and enjoyable visits 
Eating can be comforting too 
When is it time for hospice care? 
Active dying 
Checklist for encouraging comfort care 
Resources and references 

I’ve copied below excerpts from a “checklist for encouraging comfort care.”

Here are a few of the resources listed: 

Caring Connections is a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization aimed at mproving care at the end of life. Contact at (800) 658-8898 or www.Caringinfo.org 

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization is the largest nonprofit membership organization representing hospice and palliative care programs and professionals in the United States. It offers a wealth of information about end of-life-care and referrals to local hospices. Contact at (800) 658-8898 or www.nhpco.org 

National Health Care Decisions Day is an initiative to encourage people to express their wishes regarding healthcare and for providers and facilities to respect those wishes, whatever they may be. For information about advance directives, contact www.nationalhealthcaredecisionsday.org 

National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center can direct you to professional and volunteer advocates for residents of nursing homes, board and care homes and assisted living facilities. Ombudsmen provide information about what to do to get quality care and are trained to resolve problems and assist with complaints. Contact (800) 677-1116 or www.ltcombudsman.org 

Center to Advance Palliative Care provides clear, comprehensive palliative care information for people coping with serious, complex illnesses. Contact www.getpalliativecare.org


The “checklist for encouraging comfort care” is intended as prompt for discussion “with the facility’s staff, other health care providers, or relatives and friends.” Here are some items on the checklist:
_____ Staff know your loved one’s preferences for food, drink, clothing, bathing, etc. 
_____ Staff routinely anticipate needs such as hunger, boredom, toileting and fatigue. 
_____ Pain is evaluated daily and relief is provided with medications and non-drug measures. 
_____ Psychotropic drugs are administered only with your permission. 
_____ Staff consistently interact with your loved one in a calm, kind manner. 
_____ Staff use language that promotes your loved one’s dignity and individuality. 
_____ Staff tap your loved one’s remaining abilities and strengths whenever possible. 
_____ Based on your loved one’s wishes and goals of care, you, the physician, and staff have discussed if and when hospitalization should be considered. 
_____ Based on your loved one’s wishes and goals of care, a decision has been made if cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should/should not be initiated. 
_____ Based on your loved one’s wishes and goals of care, you have discussed with the physician and staff if oral or intravenous antibiotics should/should not be initiated. 
_____ Staff know your preferences/decisions about hospice care. 
_____ Staff routinely engage your loved one in one-to-one activities involving the five senses. 
_____ Your loved one’s spiritual needs and practices are addressed. 
_____ Funeral arrangements are completed and communicated to staff. 
_____ Ways of caring for yourself are practiced on a daily basis.