New Educational Campaign to Make Americans More
Aware of Palliative Care
The Joint Commission releases 'Speak Up: What you
need to know about your serious illness and palliative care' – advice to
help patients, families cope; see video
Oct. 11, 2012 – Palliative care is still not a
well-known or understood service, although it has proven to help many
patients and the families of patients living with a serious illness or
health problem in dealing with emotional, physical and spiritual
concerns. A new educational campaign has been launched by The Joint
Commission that may heighten awareness of this special health care.
The Joint Commission’s new educational campaign,
“Speak Up: What you need to know about your serious illness and
palliative care,” covers topics
such as how and when to get palliative care, questions that palliative
care providers may ask you, questions to ask them, where to find
information, and more. The campaign brochure provides helpful tips and
encourages people to take action to improve their health.
Palliative care is special health care designed to
improve the quality of life of patients and their families by relieving
the pain, symptoms and stress of a serious or debilitating illness.
Designed to help patients feel better, palliative care can help to
relieve symptoms such as loss of appetite, pain, nausea and
sleeplessness, as well as provide help with health care decision making,
managing health care and supporting family members.
“Seriously ill patients have special physical,
emotional and spiritual needs,” says Ronald M. Wyatt, M.D., M.H.H.,
medical director, Division of Healthcare Improvement, The Joint
Commission. “By considering the option of palliative care, these
patients and their families may find that palliative is a way to prevent
or relieve suffering.”
The Joint Commission’s new palliative care
education campaign is part of the award-winning Speak Up program. Speak
Up brochures are available in English and Spanish at
www.jointcommission.org. The Speak Up program urges people to
take an active role in their own health care.
The basic framework of the Speak Up campaign urges
up if you have questions or concerns, and if you don't
understand, ask again. It's your body and you have a right to
attention to the care you are receiving. Make sure you're
getting the right treatments and medications by the right health
care professionals. Don't assume anything.
yourself about your diagnosis, the medical tests you are
undergoing, and your treatment plan.
a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate.
what medications you take and why you take them. Medication
errors are the most common health care errors.
a hospital, clinic, surgery center, or other type of health care
organization that has undergone a rigorous on-site evaluation
against established state-of-the-art quality and safety
standards, such as that provided by The Joint Commission.
Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the
center of the health care team.
Speak Up brochures also are available on the topics
of pain management, stroke, breastfeeding, dialysis patients who are
hospitalized, diabetes patients who are hospitalized, visiting the
doctor’s office, understanding medical tests, recovering after leaving
the hospital, preventing medication mistakes, preventing infections,
health literacy, preparing to become a living organ donor, avoiding
mistakes in your surgery and preventing errors in care.
The Joint Commission’s new educational campaign was developed in collaboration with the American
Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Association of Professional
Chaplains, Center to Advance Palliative Care, Hospice and Palliative
Nurses Association, Lance Armstrong Foundation, National Association of
Social Workers, and National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.
Since its launch in 2002, the Speak Up program has
grown to include 20 campaign brochures seven animated videos and 13
posters, free downloadable files of all Speak Up videos, brochures and
posters (including Spanish language versions of the brochures and
videos) are available on
The Joint Commission
website. Speak Up brochures and posters also are available
for purchase through Joint Commission Resources at 877-223-6866 or
About the Joint Commission
An independent, not-for-profit organization, The
Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 19,000 health care
organizations and programs in the United States. Joint Commission
accreditation and certification is recognized nationwide as a symbol of
quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain
Mission: To continuously improve health care for the
public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health
care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and
effective care of the highest quality and value.
Vision Statement: All people always experience the
safest, highest quality, best-value health care across all settings.
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Speak Up: What you need to know about your serious illness and
Statements of support for the “Speak Up: What you need to know
about your serious illness and palliative care” campaign
“Palliative care enhances quality of life for individuals and
families affected by serious or life-limiting illness. Social
workers play an integral role in palliative care, and NASW is
pleased to collaborate with The Joint Commission in educating
the public about this important topic.”
Elizabeth Clark, Ph.D., A.C.S.W., M.P.H., executive
director, National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
“Palliative care addresses the needs of the whole person --
body, mind and spirit, and chaplaincy care has an integral role.
As members of the palliative care team, professional chaplains
help patients and families find meaning in difficult
circumstances, as well as offer emotional and spiritual
Rev. Dr. David Johnson BCC, president, Association of
”Palliative care teams are seeing rapid growth and transforming
the care of serious illness in this country. You can have
palliative care from the point of diagnosis and together with
curative treatment. Over 63 percent of hospitals have a team
today. In addition to providing better quality care to patients
and families, palliative care is the key to delivering better
coordinated care to our sickest and most vulnerable patients.”
Diane E. Meier, M.D., director, Center to Advance
“Hospice palliative care is an essential component of the health
care system, helping patients and families well before the final
days of life, from diagnosis through the course of an illness,
through death and grief with an ongoing focus on compassion and
J. Donald Schumacher, Psy.D., president and CEO, National
Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
“Coping with a serious illness is not easy – where can patients
and families find help? The American Academy of Hospice and
Palliative Medicine and other leading palliative care
organizations have worked with The Joint Commission to develop
the Speak Up campaign for palliative care. It can help patients
and families find answers to important questions, such as:
● What is palliative care, and who is it for?
● What services do they offer?
● Will it interfere with my other treatment?
● How long can I receive it?
This short and easy-to-understand brochure can be a helpful
first step in getting the extra help patients with a serious
illness need to live fully and get the kind of care they most
Porter Storey, M.D., FACP, FAAHPM, executive vice
president, American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
“Open communication between patients, families, and healthcare
providers is the essence of palliative care. As a professional
nursing association, we are honored to help amplify the
awareness of palliative care through the Joint Commission’s
‘Speak Up’ campaign.”
Sally K. Welsh, M.S.N., R.N., NEA-BC, chief executive
officer, Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association