Palliative Care – Common Practice

Post Written By Megan Zimmerman

Imagine the end of your life. How old are you? Are you dealing with an illness or disease? Who are the people around you? Are you living in your home or in an assisted living facility or nursing home? Thinking about the end of our lives is not a pleasant experience, however, it is an important conversation to have with our loved ones. When we talk about end-of-life care, most of us are familiar with hospice care. Hospice provides around-the-clock care usually in the patient’s home, and it is designed for terminally ill patients. A new end-of-life option, called palliative care is becoming common in the United States. Palliative care teams include doctors, nurses, and other clinicians who administer ongoing care to patients. Palliative care can be received by patients with any condition or illness and at any time (not just when they are terminal). Both hospice and palliative care provide services that address a combination of treatment, daily care, equipment, and counseling for patients and their families. Palliative care often provides services for patients with chronic illnesses such as heart disease, kidney failure, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.

Healthcare innovation is continually striving to improve all aspects of health and wellness, and to learn more about palliative care and innovation surrounding end-of-life care, I spoke with Nick Jehlen. Nick is the founding partner of a company called Common Practice and a co-founder of a game called, My Gift of Grace. This game is designed to facilitate conversations around death and dying. I had the opportunity to listen to Nick describe Common Practice during his presentation at the 2015 Mayo Clinic Transform Conference. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to interview Nick and learn about his company’s role in healthcare innovation.

My Gift of Grace is a game that asks many questions about death and dying and is intended to stimulate a conversation between families and caregivers. Nick and the other researchers are studying how the game affects the quality of discussions individuals have as well as what actions come from those conversations. Based on the research, they change the questions to better stimulate conversation and actions. Nick described how the simply asking individuals to partake in a game tunes the rest of the world out. A simple set of directions and tools changes the situation so that you focus on the game and the players and become more invested in answering the questions. It makes the conversation easier to have and gives them a purpose.

This game seems simple enough, but it could be used to stimulate conversations between family members, as well as with doctors and other caregivers. It is hard to talk about the end of your life, but important to have a plan that makes you and your family more at ease. To learn more about My Gift of Grace and Nick Jehlen, you can visit this website.