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Joint Commission Adds Palliative Care Focus to 'Speak Up' Campaign

The Joint Commission has added a new palliative care education campaign to its award-winning Speak Up program. The Speak Up program urges patients to take an active role in their own healthcare.

The 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 seek out palliative care for a loved one;
  • questions palliative care providers may ask patients; and
  • questions patients should ask providers.

The campaign brochure provides helpful tips and encourages people to take action to improve their health.

Palliative care nurses specialize in to improving 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 healthcare decision making, managing healthcare and supporting family members.

"Seriously ill patients have special physical, emotional and spiritual needs," says Ronald M. Wyatt, MD, MHH, 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."

Speak Up brochures also are available in both English and Spanish on the following topics:

  • 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 new palliative 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 online.

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