What is Palliative Care?

Palliative (pal-lee-uh-tiv) care is specialized medical care for seriously ill patients and their families. It is an extra layer of support provided by a team of professional experts in addressing the symptoms and problems that usually arise in advanced stages of disease. The goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life for both patients and families resulting in comfort, then eventually a peaceful death and bereavement. Palliative care helps patients understand the nature of the illness and make timely, informed decisions about their care, together with their families. Another commonly used definition from the World Health Organization is that palliative care is a multidisciplinary approach to specialized medical care for people with any serious illnesses, focused on providing relief from physical, psychological, social or spiritual suffering. Palliative care is for anyone who is seriously ill, at any age, and at any stage of the illness. It is not dependent on prognosis, and it may be ideally utilized alongside curative treatments. And as a disease progresses, the balance of therapies shifts, transitioning focus from quantity to quality of life.

Disease-Directed Therapies Chart

Numerous studies show that palliative care significantly improves patient quality of life and lowers symptom burden. Apart from being the right thing to do for patients, this improved quality of life also means that an encounter within a healthcare system is less stressful and traumatic for families. If you are interested in learning more about what palliative care is and what it offers, please check out https://getpalliativecare.org/.