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What is Palliative Care?

We often hear the question, "What is palliative care?" Perhaps you've wondered that yourself. Many people think of palliative care exclusively as the type of care you get as you die. 
Palliative care is far more than end-of-life care. When a patient has an illness or condition that cannot be taken away and could shorten their natural life, palliative care services can improve that patient’s quality of life.
Palliative care providers focus on controlling pain and other symptoms, ensuring adequate home supports, assisting with grief support, and educating and advocating for patients and their families as needed.  Essentially, palliative care assists patients who are dealing with life-limiting conditions, as well as their families and caregivers, to live well each day by ensuring the best possible quality of life. 
Who is palliative care for?
Palliative care is appropriate for patients who have received any diagnosis that will shorten life expectancy. Examples of these illnesses include, but are not limited to:
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease;
  • kidney disease;
  • cancer;
  • multiple sclerosis;
  • respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); and 
  • heart disease.
Patients may be considered for palliative care services if they are experiencing a lot of symptoms and treatment aimed toward a cure is no longer a goal. However, patients may also receive palliative care services if they are receiving active care for symptom management. 
Palliative care services can be made available to patients living outside the Eastern Health region under certain circumstances. For more information, please visit Provincial Focus.


Updated Sep 28, 2017