Living with a serious illness and navigating the healthcare system can be overwhelming. Palliative care brings together a team of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers and chaplains focused on communicating wishes and coordinating care amongst multiple specialties. Whether you're facing a new diagnosis, living with a chronic illness or coping with the advanced stages of a progressive condition, our UnityPoint Health palliative care team will help you determine the best course of treatment based on your goals and wishes.

What is Palliative Care?

The palliative care definition involves a supportive, medical approach that focuses on providing relief from a range of symptoms and stress caused by a serious illness. Symptoms palliative care can help manage include:

It’s designed to improve a patient’s quality of life and encourages open dialogue between the patient and their care team and the desired course of treatment for the patient’s illness.

When Should Someone Consider Palliative Care?

Palliative care should be considered for people who have chronic illnesses, including:

When patients also frequently require emergency room visits and hospitalizations, palliative care should be considered.

Palliative Care Services

Our team works closely with you and your provider to improve your comfort, independence and quality of life through all stages of your condition. Our team will also:

  • Help you and your family understand your illness and treatment options
  • Aim to reduce your symptoms and manage pain
  • Work with you, your family and your providers to create a plan of care that meets your needs and goals
  • Assist you with advance care planning
  • Communicate your care plan to other medical staff as you move through different healthcare settings

Your provider can make a referral to a palliative care team near you and provide them with your care needs and goals to help get you relief, faster. 

Palliative Care vs Hospice Care

Palliative and hospice care are very similar in that they both use a multidisciplinary team to focus on quality of life and comfort for a patient. However, not all palliative care is hospice care, but all hospice care is palliative. Palliative care focuses on improving the quality of life for patients dealing with a serious illness by alleviating their symptoms, managing pain and holistically addressing physical, emotional and spiritual needs. It can be started at any stage of the illness, even as soon as a diagnosis is received. Individuals receiving palliative care may also continue receiving curative treatment.

Hospice care, on the other hand, is a specific type of palliative care provided to those nearing end of their life. Like palliative care, hospice also manages physical, emotional and spiritual symptoms. The difference between palliative care and hospice care here is that the goal shifts from curative to comfort from hospice care, with curative or aggressive treatments like chemotherapy being discontinued.


Palliative Care Hospice Care
For anyone with a serious, chronic illness at any stage of their disease  
Can be received along with curative treatments  
For anyone with an advanced, life-limiting illness  
For patients no longer seeking curative treatment  
Offer pain and symptom management
Focus on comfort and quality of life
Doctor's order required

FAQs

What is the benefit of palliative care?
In addition to improving quality of life and helping with symptoms, palliative care can help patients understand their choices for medical treatment, answer questions and support decisions being made. The healthcare system can be complex. However, our team works to ensure you receive the care you need. Palliative care assists with communication among specialists to ensure your voice is heard and your wishes are respected throughout the care settings.
Where is palliative care offered?
Palliative care is available in many settings depending on where you’re located, such as the hospital, at home, long-term care facilities, or assisted living.
Do I have to be dying to use palliative care?

No. Palliative care is for people experiencing any stage of a serious medical condition. Often, palliative care is best used early in an illness so decisions can be made from the start and a clear plan of action can be determined.