Palliative Care

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. Palliative care specialists focus on improving quality of life and alleviating suffering for patients and families. This is done by expertly treating pain and other distressing symptoms. In addition, palliative care specialists listen to patients and align treatment with what is important to the patient. The palliative care team will weigh benefits of various therapies and help to decide if they are right for an individual. Palliative care can be provided at the same time as curative treatments.

How does it differ from hospice?

Hospice focuses on comfort and quality during the last months of life. It is for people living with a serious illness who are no longer getting treatment intended to control that condition. Palliative care is appropriate at any stage of a serious illness, even when a full cure is expected.

Why is palliative care important?

Being diagnosed with a serious illness can be overwhelming for both patients and families. Palliative care specialists listen to patients and help figure out what matters most. Palliative care providers specialize in treating physical symptoms, such as pain, fatigue, or shortness of breath, as well as addressing spiritual and emotional well-being. This can make coping with illness easier.

Who should have palliative care?

Anyone who has been diagnosed with a serious illness should have palliative care. Ideally it should be introduced early in a person’s treatment. The palliative care team is an extra layer of support, in addition to other doctors. Some of the more common illnesses palliative care specialists can help with are cancer, heart failure, COPD, dementia, and ALS, among others.

How does a consult work?

Palliative care can be done in a stand-alone clinic, embedded in another provider’s clinic, or at a patient’s home. Treatment will be coordinated with the rest of the care team, who will be notified before any changes are made.

If you think a palliative care consult would be beneficial, contact your health care provider or call Partners In Care (541) 382-5882.