Palliative Care: a Primer

Palliative Care: a Primer

For many people, the term “palliative care” is a bit misunderstood. General speaking, palliative care is specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness. This type of care is focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of the illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.

Advanced illness presents unique challenges. Patients need symptom management and their families need support during this time. Palliative care addresses these needs through a comprehensive review of the patient’s current health circumstances, goals, and aspirations.

Palliative consultations take place with a physician that specializes in pain and symptom management. These highly skilled providers work closely with your primary physicians and care teams to offer options that enhance your quality of life. This consultation usually precedes a Hospice referral or decision to explore Hospice care.

Goals of palliative care include:

• Enhance the quality of life by managing symptoms.
• Provide emotional and spiritual support.
• Coordinate a plan of care and establish an active support system.
• Treat pain and alleviate suffering.
• Provide choices in advance care planning.

Differences between Palliative Care and Hospice Care

Palliative Care
• For patients at any age or any stage of chronic illness
• Can continue curative treatment
• Focuses on quality of life through symptom and pain management
• Patient and family centered care
• Focuses on planning in advance for future medical needs

Hospice Care
• For patients with a prognosis of six months or less
• Stops curative treatment
• Focuses on peaceful transition
• Patient and family centered care
• Focuses exclusively on comfort measures