Palliative Care

Palliative care is an approach that encompasses the holistic treatment of pain; physically, psychologically and spiritually to improve the quality of life. Its main goal is to keep the patient pain free and comfortable.

This approach may positively influence the course of illness for patients and their families facing life-threatening illness. Early identification and a detailed assessment is important. The treatment neither hastens or postpones death. They system offers:

  • a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death
  • affirms life and regards dying as a normal process
  • provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms
  • offers a support system to help the family cope during the patients illness and in their own bereavement

A whole person approach, taking into account the person’s past and current situation.


Palliative care is often times the last step before hospice. It is provided either in out-patient, home care settings or in hospitals. The palliative care professional will provide services to keep the patient out of pain and enjoying each day to its fullest. Palliative care can also be called comfort care, is primarily directed at providing relief to a terminally-ill or elderly person through:

  • symptom management
  • pain management

When people enter or begin palliative care, their loved ones need to understand the primary goal of this phase of healthcare. They also should make sure that they begin the process of discerning what the patient’s final wishes are for the final phase of their life.

If their loved one is under Palliative Care, it is normal to feel the following:

  • grief and bereavement
  • fear of planning for final affairs such as:
  • last will and testament
  • funeral and memorial planning
  • denial or uncertainty about the future
  • fear over their own ability to care for a loved one


Palliative care is a young field in medicine, only truly being practiced in the past few decades. Its origins root deeply in ancient history however. The term palliative care comes from the Latin palliare, which means “to cloak.”

Palliative care as we know it today has its modern origins in the hospice movement, with Dame Cicely Saunders made breakthroughs with the terminally ill in 1948.

Since then palliative care has grown – in the United States alone there are now over 3,200 hospices and over 100 accredited palliative care fellowship programs for specialty training of physicians.


  • Check Insurance, Medicare and Medicaid for palliative coverage.
  • Understand the difference between palliative care and hospice.
  • What is the level of treatments offered? Which is best suited for my loved one.


Describe the:

  • Upside of agreeing to palliative care
  • Downside of not agreeing to the care
  • Medical outcomes or side effects that need to be discussed
  • Affect of my ability to function independently
  • Why are you the best care provider in our area?
  • What is the most sacred story you can share with us about a previous patient that was under your care?

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