Palliative care is a healthcare specialty that is both a philosophy of care and an organized, highly structured system for delivering care. Multiple studies have demonstrated that palliative care improves health care quality in three domains: the relief of physical and emotional suffering; improvement and strengthening of the process of patient-physician communication and decision-making; and assurance of coordinated continuity of care across multiple healthcare settings – hospital, home, hospice and long-term care.
At the forefront of patient-centered care, 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 comfort and control.
Comprehensive palliative care services integrate the expertise of a team of providers from different disciplines in order to adequately assess and address the complex needs of seriously ill patients and their families. Members of a palliative care team typically include professionals from medicine, nursing, and social work, with additional support from chaplaincy, nutrition, rehabilitation, pharmacy, and other professional disciplines as needed.