Hospice palliative care provides medical services, emotional support, and spiritual resources for people who have illnesses that do not go away and often get worse with time; people may be in the late stages of an incurable illness, such as cancer or Alzheimer's disease. Hospice palliative care can also help family members manage the practical details and emotional challenges of caring for a dying loved one.

The goal of hospice palliative care is to improve quality of life-not just in the body, but also in the mind and spirit.

Many people also combine hospice palliative care with other types of treatment. Hospice palliative care can help manage symptoms, pain, or side effects from treatment. It can help people cope with their feelings about living with a chronic illness.

Hospice palliative care services are provided by a team of caregivers that may include health professionals, volunteers, and spiritual advisors. Services typically include:

  • Basic medical care with a focus on pain and symptom control.
  • Access to a member of the hospice team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Medical supplies and equipment, as needed.
  • Counselling and social support. These services are available, as needed, for both the person in hospice palliative care and for anyone in his or her family.
  • Guidance with the difficult, but normal, issues of life completion and closure.
  • A break (respite care) for caregivers, family, and others who regularly care for the person.
  • Volunteer support, such as preparing meals or running errands.

Current as of: October 6, 2017

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Shelly R. Garone, MD - Palliative Medicine & Robin L. Fainsinger, MB, ChB, LMCC, CCFP - Palliative Medicine