Palliative (pronounced PAL-lee-uh-tiv) care is a type of medical care provided to people with serious illnesses. Derived from the word “palliate,” meaning “to ease or comfort,” the focus of palliative medicine is to improve the quality of life for patients and their families by providing relief from the physical symptoms and emotional stress associated with a serious medical condition.
The Unique Makeup of a Palliative Care Team
Palliative care is provided by a unique team of experts assembled to address the many challenges faced by seriously ill patients and their families. While the exact makeup varies, the team may include:
- Palliative medicine physicians
- Social workers
- Primary care and other physicians
- Chaplains or other spiritual counselors
- Physical therapists
- Palliative care volunteers
Also considered members of the palliative care team are the patient and their loved ones, as their input on important decisions is valued and respected.
How the Palliative Care Team Works to Maximize Quality of Life
Each member of a palliative care team plays a role in supporting the highest possible quality of life for a patient and their family. For example:
- Doctors and nurses work together to prescribe medication and other treatments to minimize physical symptoms like pain, nausea, and fatigue, and address mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
- The social worker makes it easier and less stressful for a patient and their loved ones to navigate the intricacies of the healthcare and insurance systems.
- The chaplain provides spiritual support and guidance.
- Volunteers can handle a wide range of tasks for the family to lighten their burden and allow them to spend more time with the patient.
A common thread running through all these activities is a commitment to active communication to ensure that everyone involved feels well-informed and fully engaged.
Learn more about palliative care at Baptist Health.