Compassion and Support


Patients & Families

Palliative Care - Patients & Families

When patients are surveyed about the type of healthcare they want to receive when they face a serious illness they overwhelmingly want:
    To be respected as a unique individual
    To be in control of their decisions and direction of their care
    To avoid being a burden on loved ones
    To strengthen their relationships with loved ones
    Adequate pain and symptom management
    Their spiritual and cultural beliefs addressed
    To avoid inappropriate prolongation of dying
    Close communication between the patient, family, and healthcare professionals
All of these key patient wishes are encompassed in palliative care.
Palliative care is care provided by a team of professionals, including physicians, nurses, social workers, and others as needed, in consultation with patients and their families.  The three key pillars of palliative care include:
The primary goals of the care are to prevent or relieve pain and suffering and to enhance the patient’s quality of life.

Palliative care involves assisting the patient and family in making difficult medical decisions by holding conversations about the patient’s values, beliefs and personal goals for the care they receive. Patients and their families are encouraged to discuss the individual’s values and priorities and those are considered along with the illness. These values, beliefs and goals for care will guide the choice of treatment and specific interventions.

Making medical decisions can be difficult. It is helpful to ask the following questions:
  • Will the treatment make a difference?
  • Do the burdens of treatment outweigh the benefits?
  • Is there hope for recovery? If so, what will life be like afterward?
  • What do I value? What is important? What is the goal for my medical care?

Palliative care services are delivered strategically using a collaborative and communicative process. Palliative care delivery involves the patient, family, physicians and health care team all working together to ensure that the patient experiences care that is compassionate, supportive, comforting, and in line with their goals.

Palliative care is NOT the same as hospice care. Palliative care may be provided at any point during a person’s illness, even right from the time of diagnosis. Palliative care may be given at the same time as typical treatments. Palliative care is appropriate at any age, at any stage of disease, and along with any other type of treatment a patient may be receiving.

Hospice care is palliative care at the end of life. To enter the hospice program a person’s life expectancy must be six months or less and they must make a commitment to forgo usual and customary treatments for their underlying disease. For more information about hospice, see our hospice page.