Advancing Joint Commission Palliative Care Certification in Cancer Centers

Every cancer patient, from the day of diagnosis, has palliative care needs. Palliative care (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses such as cancer. It is focused on providing relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. Palliative care integrated into cancer care has been shown to improve physical and psychological symptoms, improve family caregiver well-being and even prolong survival.

Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work together with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment.

In September 2011 The Joint Commission, the body that accredits and certifies more than 19,000 health care organizations across the United States, launched its Advanced Certification Program for Palliative Care. The new certification is designed to recognize hospital inpatient palliative care teams that demonstrate exceptional patient and family-centered care in order to improve quality of life for patients facing serious illness. Joint Commission certification is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality.

Under the direction of the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC), each grantee will be provided with technical assistance and hands-on mentoring from CAPC faculty. The CAPC provides health care professionals with the tools, training and technical assistance necessary to start and sustain successful palliative care teams in hospitals and other health care settings. Located at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, CAPC is a national organization dedicated to increasing the availability of quality palliative care services for people facing serious, complex illness.

For questions related to eligibility for Joint Commission certification, email or call 630.792.5291.

The LIVESTRONG Foundation is working with CAPC to advance education and information related to Palliative Care in the oncology setting. Throughout our 2012 and 2013 Community Impact Project we have offered funding, and one year of consultant support, to 30 hospitals and cancer centers to assist in their quest to achieve this certification.