are often misconceptions and confusion when discussing the field of palliative
Palliative care began in the hospice movement but is now
widely used outside of traditional hospice care. The first United States
hospital-based palliative care programs began in the late 1980s.
Hospice and Palliative Care Month being recognized in November, Georgia
Anderson, manager of palliative care and outpatient social work within the
University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute, says it’s important to know the
difference between the two fields and that palliative care can greatly improve
life for those who are living with a painful or debilitating illness.
care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses, and it specifically
focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of
a serious illness—whatever the diagnosis,” she says. "Hospice is end-of-life
care, but palliative care does not have to be provided strictly at the end of
life. Palliative care is provided at the same time as curative treatment. The overall
goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life for both the patient and
the family throughout the course of illness.”
care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses, social workers and other
specialists who work together with a patient’s other doctors to provide extra support,
both physically and mentally.
appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be
provided along with traditional, curative treatment,” Anderson says, adding
that palliative care has been shown to be particularly helpful in patients with
cancer, cardiac diseases, like congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease, kidney failure, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, amyotrophic lateral
sclerosis (ALS) and other serious, chronic conditions.
care is truly a medical specialty and the whole goal of it is to relieve
suffering from the symptoms that come from treatment, like pain, fatigue or
even depression,” she says. "It can help patients gain the strength to carry on
with daily life and improve their ability to tolerate medical treatments. Additionally,
it helps patients feel like they have more control over their care by giving
them choices about their treatment options and overall goals.”
She adds that
there is a strong family component to palliative care and that the palliative
care team members do their best to be a support network for anyone who may need
partnership, where the team not only supports the patient and their family
every step of the way by controlling symptoms, but also by improving
understanding of treatment options and goals,” Anderson says. "Palliative care
doesn’t mean preparing someone to die; it’s helping a person live comfortably
and helping them make their own decisions about care.”
>>Learn more about
palliative care at UC Health.