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Palliative Care

An Explanation of Palliative Care

NHPCO uses the National Consensus Project's definition of Palliative care.

Palliative care is patient and family-centered care that optimizes quality of life by anticipating, preventing, and treating suffering. Palliative care throughout the continuum of illness involves addressing physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual needs and to facilitate patient autonomy, access to information and choice.

The following features characterize palliative care philosophy and delivery:

  • Care is provided and services are coordinated by an interdisciplinary team;
  • Patients, families, palliative and non-palliative health care providers collaborate and communicate about care needs;
  • Services are available concurrently with or independent of curative or life-prolonging care;
  • Patient and family hopes for peace and dignity are supported throughout the course of illness, during the dying process, and after death

Community Based Palliative Care

Community-based palliative care includes a variety of models of care designed to meet the needs of seriously ill individuals and their families, outside of the hospital setting. 

Resources of Interest

Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care, 3rd edition, was released in 2013 by the National Consensus Project for Quality Palliative Care. The Clinical Practice Guidelines promote quality palliative care, foster consistent and high standards in palliative care, and encourage continuity of care across settings. Since there is shared responsibility for palliative care across health care settings, the emphasis is on collaborative partnerships within and between hospitals, community centers, hospices, and home health agencies to ensure quality, continuity, and access to palliative care. Eight domains of care are discussed and elements of best practices are described:  Domain 1: Structure and Processes of Care, Domain 2: Physical Aspects of Care, Domain 3: Psychological and Psychiatric Aspects, Domain 4: Social Aspects of Care, Domain 5: Spiritual, Religious, and Existential Aspects of Care, Domain 6: Cultural Aspects of Care, Domain 7: Care of the Patient at the End of Life, and Domain 8: Ethical and Legal Aspects of Care.

The Clinical Practice Guidelines serve as a manual or blueprint to create new programs and guide developing programs.

Copies may be purchased from the NHPCO Marketplace for $27.00 members and $30.00 non-members.

Legal and Regulatory Resources

Palliative Care Resources for NHPCO members

  • Documents
  • Articles 
  • Videos
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