Definition of Palliative Care
The goal of palliative care is to prevent and relieve suffering and
to support the best possible quality of life for patients and their
families, regardless of the stage of the disease or the need for other
therapies. Palliative care is both a philosophy of care and an
organized, highly structured system for delivering care. Palliative
care expands traditional disease-model medical treatments to include
the goals of enhancing quality of life for patient and family,
optimizing function, helping with decision-making and providing
opportunities for personal growth. As such, it can be delivered
concurrently with life-prolonging care or as the main focus of care.
Palliative care is operationalized through effective management of pain
and other distressing symptoms, while incorporating psychosocial and
spiritual care according to patient/family needs, values, beliefs and
culture(s). Evaluation and treatment should be comprehensive and
patient-centered, with a focus on the central role of the family unit
in decision-making. Palliative care affirms life by supporting the
patient and family�s goals for the future, including their hopes for
cure or life-prolongation, as well as their hopes for peace and dignity
throughout the course of illness, the dying process and death.
Palliative care aims to guide and assist the patient and family in
making decisions that enable them to work toward their goals during
whatever time they have remaining. Comprehensive palliative care
services often require the expertise of various providers in order to
adequately assess and treat the complex needs of seriously ill patients
and their families. Members of a palliative care team may include
professionals from medicine, nursing, social work, chaplaincy,
nutrition, rehabilitation, pharmacy and other professional disciplines.
Leadership, collaboration, coordination and communication are key
elements for effective integration of these disciplines and services.
Excerpted from Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care.