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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. 

Current News

Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care Released -  On March 26, 2013 the National Consensus Project for Quality Palliative Care released the "Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care, 3rd edition," which can serve as a blueprint for creating new palliative care programs and guiding developing programs. The guidelines describe elements of best practices for eight practice domains: structure and processes of care; physical aspects of care; psychological and psychiatric aspects; social aspects of care; spiritual, religious, and existential aspects of care; cultural aspects of care; care of the patient at the end of life; and ethical and legal aspects of care. NHPCO served on the consensus project task force, composed of representatives from  AAHPM, CAPC, HPNA, NPCRC, NASW and NHPCO.  The guidelines are available for free download at www.nationalconsensusproject.org

"Palliative Care: The Relief You Need When You’re Experiencing the Symptoms of Serious Illness," is a brochure produced by the National Institute of Nursing Research (November, 2009).

Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care, Second Edition – was released March 25, 2009 at the Annual Assembly of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) and Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA), held March 25-28, 2009, in Austin, TX.  Edited by Constance Dahlin, MSN, ANP, BC, ACHPN, who chaired the Revision Task Force, with input from representatives of each of the four major organizations in end of life –AAHPM, HPNA, NHPCO, and the Center for Palliative Care (CAPC) – the revised publication includes a new feature – exemplars of how hospice and palliative care professionals around the country have implemented the eight NCP domains of care in their practice settings. The Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care, Second Edition will be available at the end of March in PDF format for free download from the NCP Web site. Print copies will sell for $34.99 and can be purchased at the NHPCO Marketplace.

Legal and Regulatory Resources

Articles of Interest

Palliative Care Resources

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