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Palliative care is a medical specialty. Palliative medicine can manage pain, control symptoms, and improve quality of life for as long as life remains.

Growth House > Overviews > Palliative Care

Palliative Care

Professional Resources

We invite palliative care professionals and hospice workers to find palliative care instruments and get help for quality improvement projects.

Palliative care, also called comfort care, is primarily directed at providing relief to a terminally-ill person through symptom management and pain management. The goal is not to cure, but to provide comfort and maintain the highest possible quality of life for as long as life remains. Well-rounded palliative care programs also address mental health and spiritual needs. The focus is not on death, but on compassionate specialized care for the living. Palliative care is well-suited to an interdisciplinary team model that provides support for the whole person and those who are sharing the person's journey in love.

Palliative care may be delivered in hospice and home care settings or in hospitals. Because medical needs vary depending on the disease that is leading toward death, specialized palliative care programs exist for common conditions such as cancer and AIDS. Specialized caregiving is also needed if organic changes in the brain lead to coma or dementia.

Our related page on death with dignity discusses the use of advance medical directives, power of attorney arrangements, and the right to die, including the controversial topic of voluntary euthanasia. It cannot be stressed enough that top-quality palliative care can make the difference between a gentle death and one in which suffering is so terrible and prolonged that assisted suicide becomes an attractive alternative.

When people enter a hospice or begin palliative care, their loved ones may begin to experience increased feelings of grief and bereavement. These feelings may intensify as people put final affairs in order, which may include funeral and memorial planning.