For Health Care Providers

Why Refer Patients to Palliative Care?

When facing a serious illness, patients and family members are confronted with challenging situations such as physical distress, inadequate coping patterns, and unanswered spiritual issues that can deteriorate quality of life. Timely referral to palliative care minimizes the patient and caregivers’ distress and allows for optimal decision-making and quality of life throughout the duration of the serious illness.

Palliative Care Philosophy

Palliative care:

  • Provides relief from pain and the distressing symptoms of a progressive, chronic, or life-limiting illness
  • Addresses a patient’s physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs using a holistic approach
  • Offers counsel and support to patients and their families in planning a course of treatment for symptoms and illness
  • Complements and enhances disease-modifying therapy, or is used as an alternative to aggressive treatment
  • Serves patients and families experiencing acute or chronic illness

Should I Refer My Patient to Palliative Care?

Referral to palliative care may be appropriate in the presence of:

  • One or more chronic or life-limiting conditions
  • Declining ability to complete activities of daily living
  • Weight loss
  • Multiple hospitalizations
  • Difficult to control physical or emotional symptoms
  • Patient or family uncertainty regarding prognosis
  • Patient or family uncertainty regarding goals of care
  • Limited social support for patient
  • Patient or family spiritual distress

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