Palliative care is an area of medicine that helps patients who are seriously ill maintain the best possible quality of life. The goal of palliative care is to keep patients as active and independent as possible so they can cope with their illness. Patients may receive palliative care while also receiving aggressive treatment for their illness. Palliative care:
- Provides emotional and spiritual support for patients
- Educates patients and answers questions
- Assists with living wills and health care power of attorney issues
- Treats pain and other symptoms
- Coordinates care among specialists and others
- Helps patients find and access services they need outside the hospital Supports families and caregivers
Frequently Asked Questions
Studies show that palliative care improves quality of life for seriously ill patients. By offering expert medical, emotional, spiritual and practical support, palliative care helps patients feel better and remain more active and independent while living with an illness. Palliative care is designed specifically to meet the needs and wishes of each patient and includes patients and their families in decisions about care.
Who is appropriate for palliative care?
Patients may be any age and may be in any stage of illness. Anyone with a serious illness (such as heart and lung disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, or other long-term or advanced illness) can benefit from palliative care.
Who makes up the palliative care team?
Palliative care is provided by an experienced team, which includes a palliative medicine physician, a nurse practitioner, a medical social worker, an advance care planner and a chaplain. The palliative care team works with the patient's physician and the hospital staff.
Who can refer to a palliative care specialist?
The patient's physician, nurse, case manager, social worker, family member or the patient may ask for a consultation with the palliative care team.