Palliative care is specialized medical care for people living with a serious or chronic illness. This type of care is focused on relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.
Palliative care is a relatively new field of medicine and is provided by a specially trained team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work together with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and it can be provided along with curative treatment.
Palliative care differs from hospice care in that one does not need a prognosis of 6 months or less to live. Palliative care is directed at symptom relief, comfort and quality of life, even though the disease or condition may not be curable.
Like hospice care, palliative care uses a team approach.
Think of it as a bridge
Palliative care can be thought of as the bridge between having a short-term, curable, fully recoverable illness versus having a serious, chronic condition that is not curable (but not considered terminal at this time), may have many complicated aspects to it, and therefore requires a multi-faceted approach. Many hospice organizations offer palliative care and/or hospice care. Many palliative care physicians are also on staff at hospice companies.
“What Really Matters at the End of Life”
BJ Miller, MD of Zen Hospice, San Francisco