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Palliative Care

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care extends the principles of hospice care to a broader population that could benefit from receiving this type of care earlier in their illness or disease process.

No specific therapy is excluded from consideration. An individual’s needs must be continually assessed and treatment options should be explored and evaluated in the context of the individual’s values and symptoms.

A person can receive palliative care while still receiving other treatments for an illness. When the focus on treatment moves from cure to care, a transition to hospice care would take place. Ideally, there should be a seamless continuum of care from diagnosis, to active treatment that can include palliative care, and then to hospice care.

NHPCO's Standards of Practice for Hospice Programs describes palliative care as:

Treatment that enhances comfort and improves the quality of an individual’s life during the last phase of life. No specific therapy is excluded from consideration. The test of palliative care lies in the agreement between the individual, physician(s), primary caregiver, and the hospice team that the expected outcome is relief from distressing symptoms, the easing of pain, and/or enhancing the quality of life. The decision to intervene with active palliative care is based on an ability to meet stated goals rather than affect the underlying disease. An individual’s needs must continue to be assessed and all treatment options explored and evaluated in the context of the individual’s values and symptoms. The individual’s choices and decisions regarding care are paramount and must be followed.

Additional Palliative Care Information – that includes articles of interest, regulatory resources and other links.

NHPCO's Caring Connections offers more information about palliative care and hospice, advance care planning, caregiving, coping with pain, grief and much more.