Children's Health and Wellness

Palliative Care

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is care that makes patients as comfortable as possible and that prevents and relieves suffering. And, although it is part of end-of-life care, it can be applied to care for people in any stage of disease. Palliative care allows for medical therapies, but focuses on:

  • Improving quality of life

  • Reaching the best possible function (for example, daily activities, physical activity, self care)

  • Helping with decision-making about end-of-life care

  • Providing emotional support to patients and their families

Walk with your health care provider or local hospital about whether or not palliative care is available in your area. Check with your health plan to see whether this type of care is covered.

What are the patient's rights?

Patient's rights are a list of rights to ensure that the quality of care, respect, and decision-making processes will be honored by the company, individual, or institution that is providing his or her care. These rights will be given to the patient and family before care begins. It is similar to a contract that provides protection for the patient and family, and informs them of services and limitations of the caregiver(s).

What are palliative care services?

The services most palliative care providers can offer are extensive. The following are some of the services offered:

  • Psychosocial support and intervention to help the patient and family members

  • Equipment for delivery of medications, nutrition, oxygen, and suction

  • Equipment including special beds, toilets, chairs, wheelchairs, and bath requirements

  • Skilled nursing care, doctors, pharmacists, and other specialists

  • Medication and nutrition support

  • Spiritual, religious, and cultural needs and requests

  • Special services for siblings or children (for example, support groups)

  • Respite care allowing the family to rest

  • Bereavement care

Online Source: Palliative Care in Cancer, National Cancer Institute http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Support/palliative-care
Online Source: Caring for a Terminally Ill Child: A Guide for Parents, American Society of Clinical Oncologyhttp://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/advanced-cancer/caring-terminally-ill-child-guide-parents
Online Source: Palliative Care Questions and Answers, National Hospice and Palliative Care Organizationhttp://www.caringinfo.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3355
Online Source: What Is Pediatric Palliative Care? Center to Advance Palliative Carehttp://www.getpalliativecare.org/whatis/pediatric/
Online Source: When Children Die: Improving Palliative and End-of-Life Care for Children and Their Families, The Institute of Medicine Committee on Palliative and End of Life Care for Children and Their Familieshttp://www.iom.edu/Reports/2002/When-Children-Die-Improving-Palliative-and-End-of-Life-Care-for-Children-and-Their-Families.aspx
Online Editor: Geller, Arlene
Online Editor: Metzger, Geri K.
Online Medical Reviewer: Finke, Amy, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Holloway, Beth, RN, M.Ed.
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 2/15/2014
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