Sunday, October 18, 2009

What is palliative care?

"Palliative care", up until August I had a vague sense of what this phrase meant. Now, I have a much better understanding having been at my father's side during his last illness, decline, and recent death. It was a Friday when his physician said "he is not going to recover from this illness, we'd like to have you speak with the doctors from palliative care".

I knew it was like Hospice, but I was not able to give a good, concise definition. We met with palliative care team, and the decision was made to transfer my father to their unit. What did it mean? Palliative care does not mean "non-medical" or "non-treatment". Instead, the medical treatment is for comfort rather than curative measures. Comfort, not a cure -- that was the goal. Hospice, the term I was much more familiar with, is a brand of palliative care, a company name essentially.

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