What is Palliative Care? How Does it Work?

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If you’ve been advised that your loved one needs palliative care, you may be wondering what exactly palliative care is, and how it will benefit your loved one. Our hospice care team in South Jersey has put together this helpful guide to answer some basic questions about palliative care, and we hope it will help you make the best decision for your loved one and your family.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is a specific type of medical care for people of all ages who are seriously ill with life-threatening, curable, or chronic illnesses. The primary goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life by relieving pain and suffering.

Is palliative care the same thing as hospice care?

Not necessarily. Hospice care is for people diagnosed with terminal illnesses who don’t have long left to live, while palliative care is for all types of illnesses, including curable ones. Hospice care is palliative in the sense that its goal is to make the person as comfortable and pain-free as possible.

What’s the difference between a palliative doctor and a primary care doctor?

A primary care doctor will focus on overall health and treating diseases and illnesses. Palliative care doctors are focused on eliminating the person’s pain and suffering as much as possible, while also helping the ill person and their family cope with their illness.

If my loved one receives palliative care, will they still have access to their primary care doctor?

Yes, absolutely. Palliative care doctors and primary care doctors work together to ensure the person’s treatment is as comprehensive as possible. If your loved one enters palliative care, both their primary care doctor and their palliative care specialist will work in conjunction to create the optimal treatment plan for them.

How can I find the best palliative care for my loved one?

We recommend asking your loved one’s primary care doctor as a first point of inquiry. Certain hospitals and assisted living communities have palliative care specialists, and there are also medical teams who provide palliative care in the home.

Does insurance cover palliative care?

Coverage varies by state and insurance companies, of course,  but  many private insurance companies and HMOs include certain palliative care benefits. Medicare and Medicaid also have provisions for palliative care, so we recommend checking with your loved one’s insurance provider to learn what they’ll cover.

Palliative and hospice care in Cape May County, NJ

At UMC, we have a dedicated neighborhood called Bridges at The Shores for hospice care and palliative care. Our multi-disciplinary team ensures that residents are as comfortable as possible while meeting their medical needs and providing mental and emotional support. 

Placing a loved one in palliative or hospice care can be a very difficult decision and it’s one that affects the whole family. When your loved one enters hospice care at Bridges at The Shores they’ll have around-the-clock access to pain management specialists, medication support, life enrichment programs, spiritual support, personalized care plans, and customized meal plans. 

For more information about Bridges at The Shores, or if you have any other questions about palliative or hospice care, please contact the team at UMC today.