What is Palliative Care?

People have misconceptions around what the term “palliative” means. 

“Palliate,” the root word, means to cloak, to protect. Palliative care is whole person and family care that is central to all health care. Palliative care is not limited to end-of-life and or terminal-stage care – it’s “available for people living with any illness, at any age and at any stage of an illness” (World Health Organization, 2012). 

Better communication about the various stages, palliative care versus end-of-life care versus terminal care, debunking myths around palliative care, and championing the benefits of palliative care will help shift these misconceptions.

Regardless of prognosis, we at the PHC Hospice Palliative Care Program believe all persons with life-limiting illness should have access to palliative care to get relief from and investigation into their acute pain, and or other unwanted symptoms.

Accessing palliative care services, either in hospital or in a consult capacity is not synonymous with death, nor is it mutually exclusive from other disease modifying or treatment therapies. Rather, palliative care serves as a complement to these treatments, helping to manage patient symptoms, help patients cope with their illness and improve their overall quality of life. 

Palliative Care Video

This video is an introduction to palliative care for the general public and healthcare providers who have no education or experience in palliative care. It reviews the latest evidence supporting the use of palliative care in all serious illness. The video aims to dispel myths about palliative care and inform people about how palliative care can be beneficial throughout a serious illness. The second half of the 40 minute video focuses on the rights of patients around decision-making in serious illness and the general structure of health care decision-making in British Columbia.