How do I know if palliative care is right for me?

If you are experiencing pain, stress or other symptoms resulting from a serious or chronic illness, we can help. Palliative care is appropriate at any stage of a serious illness and can be administered alongside curative treatment.

What does palliative care provide?

  • Pain and symptom control: The palliative care team will identify sources of pain and discomfort, including problems with breathing, fatigue, depression, insomnia, or bowel or bladder issues. Then the team will provide treatments that can offer relief in the form of medication, paired with massage therapy or relaxation techniques.
  • Communication and coordination: Palliative care teams are extremely good communicators. They place great importance on communication between you, your family and your doctors in order to ensure that your needs are fully met. These include establishing goals for your care, help with decision-making, and coordination of care.
  • Emotional support: Palliative care focuses on the entire person, not just the illness. The team members caring for you will address any social, psychological, emotional or spiritual needs you may have.
  • Family/caregiver support: Caregivers bear a great deal of stress, too, so the palliative care team supports them as well. This focused attention helps ease some of the strain and can help you with your decision making.

What can I expect?

Palliative care addresses the whole person. You can expect relief from symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping giving you support to continue your medical treatments and carry on with daily life. Your plan of care is reviewed regularly by the palliative care team and discussed with you to ensure your needs and wishes are being met and that your treatments are in line with your goals.

Does insurance cover palliative care?

Most insurance plans cover all or part of palliative care treatment.  You should contact your insurance company for your speciifc benefits.

Can I keep my regular doctor?

Yes, your primary doctor will continue to direct your care and play an active role in your treatment. The palliative care team works in partnership with your primary doctor.

Can I have curative treatment together with palliative care?

Absolutely.  Your treatment choices are up to you. You can get palliative care at the same time as treatment designed to cure your illness.

Who else, besides the patient, can benefit?

Patients, family members and caregivers are the special focus of palliative care. Your doctors and nurses also benefit because they know they are meeting your needs by providing care and treatment that reduces your suffering and improves your quality of life.

Where do I get palliative care?

Palliative care can be available in a number of places. These include hospitals, outpatient clinics, long-term care facilities, hospices or even in the home.

Who provides palliative care?

Usually a team of specialists, including palliative care doctors, nurses and social workers. Massage therapists, pharmacists, nutritionists and others might also be part of the team.

Can I get palliative care if I am at home?

Yes, check with your doctor about outpatient palliative care.

What is the difference between hospice and palliative care?

Palliative care is for anyone with a serious illness. You can have it at any age and any stage of an illness - even in conjunction with curative treatment. It is not dependent on prognosis.

Hospice provides palliative care for terminally ill patients who may have only months to live. People who receive hospice are also no longer receiving curative treatment for their condition or disease.

How do I get palliative care?

Ask your doctor or nurse. Or you can contact Harbin Clinic's palliative care specialist.