What is Palliative Care?

Curative care is meant to cure a disease. Palliative care is meant to make the patient more comfortable. To palliate is “to make a disease or its symptoms less severe or unpleasant without removing the cause.”

Benefits of Palliative Care

When a cancer patient gets therapeutic massage or counseling, those are considered palliative care: they make the patient feel better. Radiation, chemotherapy or surgery falls under the heading of curative care: they are meant to remove the cause of the cancer. Many people receiving curative care also receive the benefits of palliative care to address the discomfort, symptoms and stress of serious illness and curative care.

Palliative care treats people suffering from serious and chronic illnesses, such as cancer, congestive heart failure, COPD, kidney failure, AIDS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, etc.

A compliment to medical treatments, palliative care:

  • Helps navigate complex medical decision making
  • Helps manage pain
  • Alleviates symptoms to improve quality of life
  • Offers emotional and spiritual support as you deal with difficult medical issues.

What is a Palliative Care Team?

Palliative care is coordinated by clinicians board certified in hospice and palliative medicine. They create a unique plan of care based on the goals of the patient and family. They involve additional appropriate team members: social worker, chaplain and specialists like a registered dietician, music therapist and/or counselor. Working collaboratively with the patient’s medical team, the palliative care team may care for a patient at any time during the course of the illness, during or following curative treatment.

Is Hospice Care Palliative Care?

Yes, hospice care is palliative care; it too focuses on comfort and support rather than cure. The benefits of palliative care are available to anyone coping with serious illness; hospice is defined as comfort care for patients with a life expectancy of six months or less.

How Long Does Palliative Care Continue?

Palliative care can begin at diagnosis and continue alongside curative care. Hospice care begins when curative therapies no longer control the disease; the patient and the patient’s physician agree that curative treatment is no longer effective and/or that the side effects outweigh the benefits.

Who Pays for Palliative Care?

Most insurance providers offer palliative care coverage. Medicare and Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) cover only hospice care, during the last six months of life

Where Can I Get More Information?

Ask your primary care physician or specialist whether you would benefit from palliative care. A palliative care consult is free and can determine your customized plan of care. 

For more information about Palliative Care at Regional Medical Center, call: 1-877-868-4827