Palliative care (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) is specialized medical care for people with serious illness. This type of care is focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. Palliative care is provided by a specially-trained team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work together with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and it can be provided along with curative treatment.
Palliative care providers
Palliative care is an interdisciplinary medical specialty. That means that members of a palliative care team can include providers like physicians, nurses, social workers, spiritual counselors, dietitians, therapists and pharmacists, as well as family members and caregivers.
The importance of palliative care
Palliative care can provide patients relief from symptoms like pain, anxiety, shortness of breath, fatigue and other challenges that are the result of a chronic or serious condition, and the treatments for that condition. The Institute of Medicine recommends that all Americans with advanced illnesses have access to palliative care services provided by well-trained professional teams.1
The benefits of palliative care not only help the patient, but also their families and the medical system. “Hospital palliative care programs have been shown to improve physical and psychological symptom management, caregiver well-being, and family satisfaction and small, single-site studies suggest that palliative care programs may reduce hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) expenditure.”2
Advance care planning
Advanced Care planning supports individuals in making plans and written instructions about their future health care, and deciding what matters most for upcoming and end of life care.
Find more information on Advance Care Planning and grant opportunities.
These palliative care resources can connect you with local, state and national resources.
- Center to Advance Palliative Care – a national organization dedicated to increasing the availability of quality palliative care services for people facing serious illness.
- Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care 3rd edition 2013 (PDF)
- Get Palliative Care – provides clear, comprehensive palliative care information for people coping with serious illness.
- Health Affairs Blog – How States Can Expand Access To Palliative Care – an excellent summary of many of the current research and state activity.
- Honoring Choices Minnesota is focused on helping every adult Minnesotan understand what Advance Care Planning is, and working with health care providers to make sure they offer assistance to all patients, and will honor your choices.
- Minnesota Network of Hospice & Palliative Care (MNHPC) – the state’s leading palliative and hospice care network.
- The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) – is the largest nonprofit membership organization representing hospice and palliative care programs and professionals in the United States.
- National Palliative Care Registry – research in the field provides information that is an evidence base to inform program development, create presentations, write reports or grant proposals, and develop new research projects based on the read current state of the evidence.
- Palliative Care Network of Wisconsin – advancing the knowledge and skills of all health professionals providing care for seriously ill patients.
Minnesota has a long history of supporting palliative care. In 2017, the Minnesota Legislature passed HF 345 and SF 112 to create the Palliative Care Advisory Council under Minnesota Statutes, section 144.059 under jurisdiction of the Commissioner of Health.
1 Policy brief: The Institute of Medicine report Dying in America: Improving quality and honoring individual preferences near the end of life2 Cost Savings Associated With US Hospital Palliative Care Consultation Programs