National Consensus Project Definition of Palliative Care

National Consensus Project Definition of Palliative Care

The goal of palliative care is to prevent and relieve suffering and to support the best possible quality of life for patients and their families, regardless of the stage of the disease or the need for other therapies. Palliative care is both a philosophy of care and an organized, highly structured system for delivering care.

Palliative care expands traditional disease-model medical treatments to include the goals of enhancing quality of life for patient and family, optimizing function, helping with decision-making and providing opportunities for personal growth. As such, it can be delivered concurrently with life-prolonging care or as the main focus of care. Palliative care is operationalized through effective management of pain and other distressing symptoms, while incorporating psychosocial and spiritual care according to patient/family needs, values, beliefs and culture(s).

Evaluation and treatment should be comprehensive and patient-centered, with a focus on the central role of the family unit in decision-making. Palliative care affirms life by supporting the patient and family’s goals for the future, including their hopes for cure or life-prolongation, as well as their hopes for peace and dignity throughout the course of illness, the dying process and death. Palliative care aims to guide and assist the patient and family in making decisions that enable them to work toward their goals during whatever time they have remaining.

Comprehensive palliative care services often require the expertise of various providers in order to adequately assess and treat the complex needs of seriously ill patients and their families. Members of a palliative care team may include professionals from medicine, nursing, social work, chaplaincy, nutrition, rehabilitation, pharmacy and other professional disciplines. Leadership, collaboration, coordination and communication are key elements for effective integration of these disciplines and services.


Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care

Source: National Consensus Project. Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care.


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