Palliative Care Services – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Senior Support Services Glossary

I. What is Palliative Care Services?

Palliative care services are specialized medical care for individuals facing serious illnesses. The primary goal of palliative care is to provide relief from the symptoms and stress of the illness, improve the quality of life for both the patient and their family, and help patients live as comfortably as possible. Palliative care services focus on addressing physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, and are provided by a team of healthcare professionals.

II. Who Provides Palliative Care Services?

Palliative care services are provided by a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, and other specialists. These professionals work together to provide comprehensive care that addresses the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of patients and their families. Palliative care teams often collaborate with the patient’s primary care physician and specialists to ensure that all aspects of the patient’s care are coordinated and integrated.

III. What Services are Offered in Palliative Care?

Palliative care services encompass a wide range of services designed to address the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of patients facing serious illnesses. Some common services offered in palliative care include pain management, symptom control, emotional support, spiritual care, counseling, and coordination of care. Palliative care teams work closely with patients and their families to develop personalized care plans that meet the unique needs and preferences of each individual.

IV. How is Palliative Care Different from Hospice Care?

Palliative care and hospice care are both specialized forms of medical care for individuals facing serious illnesses, but there are key differences between the two. Palliative care can be provided at any stage of a serious illness, and patients can receive curative treatments alongside palliative care. Hospice care, on the other hand, is specifically for patients who have a terminal illness with a prognosis of six months or less to live, and focuses on providing comfort care at the end of life. While palliative care aims to improve quality of life for patients and families, hospice care is focused on providing comfort and support in the final stages of life.

V. Who is Eligible for Palliative Care Services?

Palliative care services are available to individuals of any age who are facing serious illnesses, such as cancer, heart disease, lung disease, kidney failure, Alzheimer’s disease, and other chronic conditions. Patients do not have to be at the end of life to receive palliative care, and can continue to receive curative treatments alongside palliative care. Palliative care services are also available to patients in any care setting, including hospitals, nursing homes, and outpatient clinics.

VI. How to Access Palliative Care Services?

Patients can access palliative care services through a referral from their primary care physician, specialist, or hospital provider. Many healthcare facilities have palliative care teams that can be consulted to provide comprehensive care for patients facing serious illnesses. Patients and families can also inquire about palliative care services directly with their healthcare providers or through community resources. It is important for patients and families to communicate their preferences and goals of care with their healthcare providers to ensure that they receive the appropriate palliative care services.