Palliative Care (PC) is a family-centered, patient-centered, approach to care that encompasses the physical, psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual components of an individual’s and his/her family’s needs, and focuses on overall quality of life.
Ideally, PC is provided by an interdisciplinary team of healthcare providers (i.e. from medicine, nursing, psychiatry, psychology, social work, chaplaincy, child life, physical/occupational/speech therapy, art and music therapy, nutrition, pharmacy, and other specialty areas) who support individuals in achieving maximal quality of life, provide relief from pain and other symptoms, and assist patients and families with decision-making regarding goals of care.
While sometimes confused with solely “end of life” care, the palliative care team helps individuals meet challenges at every stage of their illness journey and throughout transitions across their lifespan. The palliative care team can also be particularly helpful in having conversations around goals of care specific to emergency life-threatening situations, ensuring individuals that their preferences for care will be known and respected.
Not every person will have access to a palliative care provider but, if you do, you should take advantage of their unique skills and resources.