What is Palliative Care?

Have you or your loved one been diagnosed with a serious, or life-limiting illness?

Have you talked to your doctor about your wishes and what is important to you?

When you or a loved one is seriously ill, it affects many aspects of your life. The symptoms and progression of the illness can cause great distress for the patient, family, and caregivers. Palliative Care is an extra layer of supportive care that focuses on improving quality of life by managing suffering and illness burden for both patient and family, alongside the patient’s primary care physician and specialists.

This specialized care is provided by a team of doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, chaplains, social workers, and other specialists. Palliative care teams work in hospitals, as well as other community settings such as clinics, facilities, or making home visits. A patient can ask his/her doctor for a referral, or a doctor can request a referral for a palliative care consult at any stage of a patient’s illness and while a patient is continuing curative treatment. Many insurances, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover all or part of palliative care services.

Palliative care can assist patients with advanced illness to be more engaged and informed, in order to make better decisions about the care they receive. Often times, there is a need for management of uncontrolled symptoms, as well as emotional and spiritual support for the patient and family. Palliative care treats the whole person and allows for the time needed to have conversations about goals of care, including advance directives.