What is Palliative Care?

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is compassionate care focused on comfort. “To palliate” means to relieve. Palliative care allows patients to seek curative treatments but provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms. It also utilizes a team approach to integrate emotional and spiritual aspects of care for those living with a life limiting illness. The goal is to allow patients to live as actively and comfortably as possible, and to help families and caregivers cope with the patient’s illness.

The patient creates a plan of care outlining their needs with the help of a board certified physician. The plan will allow patients to receive curative treatments for their illness while achieving comfort from distressing symptoms.

Who is a part of the palliative care team?

  • Patients and Families: Patients and family caregivers are the primary palliative care team.
  • Doctors: Palliative doctors are trained in comfort care. They work with patients and primary caregivers to create a plan of care based on the goals of the patient and family.
  • Nurses: Nurses will work closely with the patient and family to implement and support the care plan. They will communicate with patient and family to help manage medications.
  • Social Workers: Social workers will help with practical matters such as confusing paper work to access resources when needed. They are also available to provide emotional support and to explain and access community resources.
  • Chaplains: Chaplains provide spiritual and emotional support based on the patient’s value system. They listen with compassion and without judgment. They can guide meaningful conversations about hope and emotional growth.

How does it work?

Referral: If you or a loved one is facing a life-threatening illness and struggling to manage the distressing symptoms, ask about palliative care. Anyone can recommend palliative care. It doesn’t matter the stage of your illness, palliative care can be provided at any time and the sooner the referral is made, the more the patient will benefit from palliative care services.

Eligibility: Palliative care can be provided to anyone with a life-threatening illness whose symptoms are worsening. Care can be given at any stage of an illness and can be provided at the same time the patient is receiving curative treatment.

Payment: Talk to your care team about costs and payment options.

The Plan of Care: Once the patient is accepted into the palliative care program, the care team will meet with the patient to determine the plan of care based on the patient’s needs. Treatments and care will be determined based on the patient’s values, beliefs, needs and goals.

The goal of palliative care is to allow the patient to live as actively and comfortably as possible while facing their life-threatening illness. The care team will assist in educating the patient about their illness and treatment options, help the patient to define what they want their quality of life to be and guide them in determining the type of care the patient prefers.

Delivery of Care: The Palliative and Supportive Care Alliance consults within Marshall Medical Centers but also makes visits to the patient’s home as needed. The care team prescribes medications and therapies and provides instruction on how to manage syptoms of the illness.