What is palliative care?
Palliative care is a specialized area of medicine focused on helping patients with serious illness live as long and as well as possible.
Palliative care offers medical and emotional support. If you are living with a serious illness—such as heart disease, Parkinson’s, dementia, cancer and many others—palliative care providers can:
Treat your symptoms, including pain, depression, nausea, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, anxiety and anything else causing distress or discomfort.
Coordinate the care you are receiving from different providers, including other medical providers and community resources.
Offer emotional support to your family caregivers and loved ones feeling distress or burden.
Help you and your family to clarify what matters most to you and convey that to your healthcare team.
When should I begin palliative care?
Pain and other symptoms of a serious illness can affect your quality of life, so there’s no reason to delay starting palliative care. You can start as soon as you are diagnosed and while you are seeking a cure or treatment. Palliative care has been shown to help seriously ill patients live longer and better.
Is palliative care the same as hospice care?
No, palliative care can help at any stage of a serious illness and can be combined with treatments aimed at a cure. Hospice care is reserved for patients whose serious illness has progressed to a late stage and who want care focused solely on comfort. Click here to learn more about the difference between hospice and palliative care.
It’s helpful to think of care along a continuum:
- Curative care addresses the underlying cause of serious illness, and the objective is to cure or prolong life. Examples of this care include dialysis, chemotherapy, radiation, surgery and rehabilitation services.
- Palliative care focuses on lessening the difficult symptoms and stress of illness and helping patients live as long and as well as possible. This care can be given at any time and alongside curative care. As the illness progresses, it may be appropriate for a patient to receive more palliative care and less curative care.
- Hospice care is appropriate when the life expectancy is six months or less. Care is focused on comfort and support only, for the patient as well as the family.
- Grief support is available to family and loved ones after death.
Where can I receive palliative care?
HopeHealth Palliative Care provides services wherever patients and families need them, including:
- Care in HopeHealth partner hospitals and Lifespan Cancer Clinics
- Home-based care, through HopeHealth's Advanced Illness Care at Home
- Some long-term care facilities, including nursing homes and skilled rehabilitation facilities
- Pediatric care (in Massachusetts only)
What makes HopeHealth Palliative Care a national leader?
We have been caring for patients since 2003, before palliative care even was established as a sub-specialty of medicine. Our team of more than 50 specialists believe in the essential responsibility of health care providers to comfort and guide patients and their loved ones through serious illness.
We are recognized for our:
Training and expertise. All of our physicians and nurse practitioners practice palliative care exclusively and are experts in their fields.
Leadership. We are the major teaching affiliate for palliative medicine for the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. We are helping train new and future physicians to provide compassionate care for people who are seriously ill.
Team-based approach. We listen to our patients and their families, explain their options and collaborate with other health care providers. We work closely to personalize treatment plans that focus on what matters most.