What is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is specialized medical care given to a patient suffering from a serious or life-threatening disease, such as cancer, right from the time of diagnosis and continuing throughout the course of illness. It is an addition to curative treatment and is provided by a team of specialists who work in co-ordination with your team of health care professionals. A palliative care team may consist of doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, clergy, and nutritionists depending on the patient and family’s needs.
Goals of Palliative Care
The primary goal of palliative care is to provide relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious ailment to both the patient and immediate family members. Pain management thus plays a big role in palliative care.
A few of the other important goals are listed below:
- To provide emotional and spiritual support
- To act as a support system during the course of the illness
- To help in dealing with difficult and complex treatment choices
Palliative Care and Hospice Care
Hospice care is another term that is used quite frequently along with palliative care. Both are very similar in their approach, except for the difference that while palliative care is provided much earlier in the treatment and continues to be provided throughout the illness, hospice care is offered to people in their final weeks or months of life. For instance, if a person is in the terminal stage of cancer with a brief life expectancy of a few months, he or she becomes a candidate to receive hospice care.