Palliative care is often confused with hospice care, comfort care or withholding curative care from which patients could benefit. This is not the case.
Palliative care is for patients with chronic illness who can continue to receive curative treatments, while hospice care is for patients with terminal illness who have typically chosen to forgo curative treatments. Learn more about palliative care vs. hospice.
What is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is provided by a team of specialists and care providers, and is aimed at controlling suffering, improving the patient’s quality of life, increasing function and assisting with decision-making.
The team approach addresses not only the physical pain of a chronic illness, but also the non-physical symptoms, like: emotional stress, financial concerns or family discord.
The main similarities between the palliative and hospice care approaches are the collaboration between the team of medical specialists and therapists, and the focus on family involvement.
The Benefits of Palliative Care
Palliative care reduces high levels of suffering and distress among patients with serious illness, at any stage of the disease. Palliative care can be beneficial to patients who:
- Are experiencing chronic, progressive pulmonary disorders and are undergoing pulmonary care
- Have kidney (renal) disease, heart failure and progressive neurological conditions
- Have cancer
- Have recurrent infections
- Have non-healing wounds/are receiving wound care
- Have a history of recurrent hospitalizations
- Have psychosocial, emotional or spiritual distress
- Need coordination of care
Palliative care can provide support for caregivers and patients, including:
- Reducing high levels of suffering and distress among patients with serious illness, at any age and at any stage of disease
- Improving communication among patients, families and health care providers with an emphasis on the family and patient’s personal choice and privacy
- Addressing the needs of family caregivers as they cope with and care for a loved one with serious illness
- Offering psychological and spiritual care, developing a support system to help the patient live as actively as possible
- Improving patient and family satisfaction
- Improving quality of care while reducing costs
– Allowing patients to remain comfortable, preventing and relieving pain and suffering, improving their quality of life
– Allowing patients to maintain connection to family and friends
– Fostering vitality and independence among patients
- Assistance navigating the healthcare system, including putting together an advance directive