Palliative Care: Not Just for the Dying

Although palliative care has traditionally been associated with hospice patients, it is being redefined by nurses as a way to help people living with chronic diseases.

“One of the biggest challenges to palliative nursing care is that as soon as you offer it to patients, they think of hospice and are reluctant to accept the help because they think it means they’re going to die,”


. An advanced practice nurse, Jean-Pierre is the first recipient of Columbia Nursing’s Palliative and End-of-Life Care Fellowship, funded by the Louis and Rachel Rudin Foundation.

Many patients—as well as their families—do not realize that pain and symptom relief can be provided at the same time as treatment for disease or disability. Stroke survivors, for example, might receive palliative care to help them cope with the loss of physical or mental capacity. For people with diabetes, palliative care might provide relief from pain caused by nerve damage in the feet or from stress caused by vision loss as the disease progresses. Patients with chronic heart failure can benefit from palliative care that helps ease symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, and loss of appetite.

Not only is palliative care different for each patient, but it also can change over the course of a patient’s illness. In every case, however, the focus is always on both easing pain and improving quality of life.

Read Columbia Nursing’s full article here.