Serious illness care planning can at times feel overwhelming. There are many tools available to help better understand the process and prepare you and your family for what may lie ahead. Here are some resources we think may be helpful.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Continuum Project?
The Continuum Project is a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) culture change initiative that grew out of a 2015 taskforce convened by MGH president, Dr. Peter Slavin, and charged with developing a comprehensive strategy to care for patients and families facing serious illness. Our team works to implement the Serious Illness Care Program at MGH, to engage patients and families in living well now and preparing for the future, and to develop educational material for clinicians, patients, and families.
What is the Serious Illness Care Program?
The Serious Illness Care Program is a system-based approach for improving serious illness care developed at Ariadne Labs. The program includes (1) tools for patients and clinicians, including a clinician facing serious illness conversation guide, (2) training for clinicians, and (3) systems change such as electronic medical record modification. The Serious Illness Care Program is being implemented at institutions across the U.S., including MGH.
How does the Continuum Project help patients and their families?
The Continuum Project works to improve the serious illness experience for patients, families, clinicians, and staff. Many clinicians at MGH have been trained on our curriculum and share our vision in promoting a culture of living well with a serious illness. Our work includes resources and educational sessions for patients and families.
What is palliative care?
Palliative care provides specialized, multidisciplinary medical care for people with serious illnesses. It is focused on improving quality of life for both the patient and the family—providing relief from the symptoms, pain and stresses of a serious illness—whatever the diagnosis. It can also be provided concurrently with curative treatment.
What is a serious illness conversation?
Serious illness conversations occur throughout the illness and explore the patient’s values, goals, and wishes. The goal is to support patients and families to live as well as possible with the illness and to be prepared.
Why are serious illness conversations important?
Serious illness conversations are valuable because they help patients experience less emotional suffering, reduce anxiety, and facilitate goal-setting and higher quality of life. They ensure that clinicians are aware of their patients’ wishes, and that patients have an opportunity to express and develop their future plans with their clinician.