Palliative Care Frequently Asked Questions

What is palliative care?

Palliative care services are designed for persons dealing with serious and advanced illness. Palliative care provides an additional layer of support for patients and families who feel overwhelmed by physical and emotional symptoms of disease, stress, caregiving, navigating a complex health system, and/or making complicated medical decisions.

Palliative care expands the traditional model of healthcare, which focuses on treating disease, to include enhancing quality of life, improving function, supporting caregiving, and helping with decision-making. It can be delivered in addition to usual life-prolonging care or as the main focus of care. Some illnesses that may benefit from palliative care are end-stage or advanced congestive heart failure, cirrhosis, kidney failure, chronic lung disease, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, cancer and recurrent stroke.

Who provides palliative care?

The typical palliative care team includes a physician, nurse practitioner and social worker specializing in palliative care.
Many teams also include chaplains, clinical pharmacists, and other advanced practice providers. The palliative care
team works collaboratively with patients, their families, and their primary health providers.

What is the role of palliative care?

The role of the palliative care team is to support and advocate for the patient and their family. Its main goal is to improve
or maintain a patient’s quality of life, wellbeing, and independence. It also aims to ensure patients receive medical
treatment that is beneficial and in line with their personal goals and values.

Palliative care can include:

  • Assessing patient and family care goals.
  • Educating patients and families about the patient’s medical condition and options available.
  • Assessing and treating symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, constipation,
    depressed mood or anxiety.
  • Helping patients and families plan and prepare for their future medical needs.
  • Identifying a durable power of attorney and establishing advanced directives.
  • Helping patients access community-based healthcare services.
  • Supporting family members through stress, grief and bereavement.
  • Exploring difficult decisions, such as:
    • Decisions about DNAR (Do Not Attempt Resuscitation) or resuscitation
    • Choices about feeding tubes, artificial nutrition or hydration
    • Decisions about hospice

How can I get palliative care?

When you are a patient in the hospital and would like to be seen by palliative care during your stay, ask your inpatient care team to request a “Palliative Care Consult.”

When you are outside the hospital and would like to visit a palliative care clinic, you can either ask your primary care physician to make a referral to palliative care, or you can make an appointment yourself by calling one of our four locations:

Pediatric Patients:

For more information about the above, please click on the "Locations" button on this page.

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