What is Palliative Care?


When a person is diagnosed with a serious illness like cancer, their hopes and values equate to more than just a cure.

Palliative care is specialized medical care focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms and psychosocial stress of a serious illness at any stage and regardless of current treatment plans. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family in a way that is meaningful to them.

The role of palliative care is to:

  • help people achieve the best quality of life for as long as possible ensure their medical, practical, emotional and spiritual needs are catered for
  • help them feel in control of their situation and make decisions about treatment and ongoing care
  • make the time patients have as valuable as can be for them and their families.
  • By improving quality of life, palliative care helps patients and their families avoid emergency room visits and hospital admissions.
  • Additional research has shown that patients who receive palliative care at the same time as their cancer treatments live longer than people who only get cancer care.

Palliative care involves a range of services offered by medical, nursing and allied health professionals, as well as volunteers and caregivers.

This is called a multidisciplinary team (MDT) approach that seeks to make this difficult passage in life more manageable and meaningful. It may be provided in or out of home.