What is Palliative Care?
"Palliative care, and the medical sub-specialty of palliative medicine, is specialized medical care for people living with serious illness. It focuses on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness and is provided by a team of palliative
care doctors, nurses, social workers and others who work together with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. Palliative care is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along
with curative treatment." - Center to Advance Palliative Care
Having a serious illness can be hard on both you and your family. Palliative (Pal-lee-uh-tiv) care is a service that may be able to help. Palliative care is for anyone with a serious illness.
The service can be added to treatments that attempt to cure or prolong life and can help you decide what treatment plan is best for you. There is no need or requirement to stop treatment of any kind.
The goal of palliative care is to help you live as well as possible. The palliative care team works along with your doctor and other members of your care team to access resources and personalize the care provided to you.
Questions to consider
- Do you have one or more serious illnesses, such as cancer, heart failure, liver failure, COPD, dementia, or a neurological disorder?
- Do you experience symptoms (such as pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, depression, anxiety, nausea, constipation, or lack of appetite) that impact your quality of life?
- Have you experienced difficult side effects from treatment?
- Have you had frequent emergency room visits or hospitalizations?
- Is your family experiencing stress related to your serious illness?
What can palliative care do?
Palliative care aims to help you feel as good as possible. It can help you have more control over your care and how you live. Palliative care can:
- suggest or prescribe treatments to help you with symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, anxiety, fatigue or lack of appetite
- support you and your family in learning about your illness, your treatments and the choices available to you
- Help you talk to your family and friends about your values and what is most important to you. These conversations can be difficult. Palliative care can provide support and guidance as you begin your conversation with your family.
- understand your goals of care and treatment preferences during serious illness
- find and utilize services that can give you and your family extra help and support in the community
Who provides palliative care in the hospital?
- physician assistants
- nurse practitioners
- social workers
Palliative care is a consult service that your doctor can request for you.
What about when I leave the hospital?
When you are ready to leave the hospital, your provider can determine if your palliative care services should continue once you are discharged. Palliative care services in the community can provide additional support for you and your family. Resources will be made available to you upon discharge from the hospital based on your needs and goals.
- Can palliative care benefit you?
- Illness types and symptoms
- Frequently asked questions