Palliative care is integrative, whole-person care for patients with serious illnesses. Palliative care can help with pain, stress, and other symptoms and can be provided at any time during a serious illness.

Similar to hospice, palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses, therapists, and others. Also similar to hospice, palliative care provides support to the family and loved ones of a patient experiencing serious illness.

Palliative care is different from hospice in that patients receiving palliative may or may not be near the end of life; in addition, patients may continue to receive treatments that may cure or reverse the effects of an illness.

Palliative care can be provided to patients at home or in hospitals with palliative care teams, outpatient clinics, long-term care facilities, or other treatment facilities.



The Palliative Care Team/Palliative Care Services

Palliative care is provided by a team of skilled, compassionate professionals including doctors, nurses, social workers, spiritual counselors, and various therapists including music, massage, physical, occupational, and animal therapists.

Comprehensive Palliative care takes into account the physical, emotional, spiritual, and practical needs that arise from facing a serious illness:

Physicial--pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, shortness of breath, and insomnia are just some of the symptoms that accompany serious illness. A palliative care team can recommend an approach to managing these symptoms, including medication, physical therapy, massage, breathing techniques, or other therapies that can help provide relief.

Emotional--Facing a serious illness can take an emotional toll on a patient and his/her loved ones. A palliative care team can include social workers, counselors, and mental health professionals to help address the emotional needs of anyone involved.

Spiritual--A serious illness can often impact a person's spiritual well-being. Questions of faith or struggles with spirituality are not uncommon. A palliative care team often involves a chaplain or other spiritual counselor who can help a patient explore their spiritual needs.

Spiritual Support and Palliative Care


Practical--Patients experiencing serious illness and their families may have financial, legal, or employment concerns. Palliative care specialists can help direct families to resources that can provide assistance and support for these practical considerations that often arise during the course of a serious illness.

Frequently Asked Questions About Palliative Care

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is care that focuses on improving the quality of life for people with serious illnesses. It helps them find relief from the symptoms and stress that might be related to having a serious illness. Palliative care also provides support to family and loved ones. Palliative care can be provided at any time during a serious illness and a patient can continue to seek treatment to cure or reverse the effects of a serious illness while receiving palliative care.

What is considered a "serious illness?"

Cardiac disease, respiratory disease, kidney failure, Alzheimer's, certain cancers, ALS, and Parkinson's are some examples of serious illnesses, but palliative care can help individuals with many other illnesses as well. Ask your doctor if palliative care is right for you.

Who provides palliative care?

Palliative care is delivered by a team of doctors, nurses, and other caring people like social workers, chaplains, nutritionists, pharmacists, therapists, and others. The team offers support that focuses on a patient's unique needs.

Can I ask for palliative care while being treated for my illness?

Yes. You can receive palliative care while receiving any treatments that may cure or reverse the effects of an illness.

Where can I receive palliative care?

Palliative care can be provided in a patient's home or in a hospital with a palliative care team, outpatient palliative care clinics, long term care or assisted living facilities, or other treatment centers such as cancer clinics.

What types of services can I expect from palliative care?

The goal of palliative care is to find ways for you to be as comfortable and independent as you would like to be. This might include:

  • Talking with doctors and nurses about how to manage your illness, including with medication or other therapies;

  • Meeting with social workers to find ways to talk to family members and loved ones about your illness;

  • Collaborating with a team to make a plan that is built on your values and wishes;

  • Receiving massage,music, or other therapy from certified therapists to help with pain and stress;

  • Helping you access financial or legal help if needed.

Who pays for palliative care?

Medicare Part B and Medicaid offer some coverage for palliative care benefits, as do some private insurance plans. Check with your individual insurance provider to see if palliative care is covered. The palliative care team can also help you with financial questions or concerns.

Paying for Palliative Care


What is the difference between palliative care and hospice?

Palliative care can be provided to a patient who is still receiving care to cure or reverse the effects of a serious illness. Hospice care is generally provided for patients who are diagnosed with a terminal illness and are likely in the final six months of their lives. Hospice patients have elected to forgo or stop other treatments and focus on the treatment of symptoms or "comfort care" in the last days, weeks, or months of life. Patients may transition from palliative care to hospice care if their doctor determines that hospice care is more appropriate.

Hospice Care


How can I get palliative care?

Ask! Talk with your doctor and let him/her know that you want to learn more about palliative care. Contact MNHPC if you would like assistance in finding palliative care services.


 Printable FAQs about Palliative Care
Find a Palliative Care Provider
Palliative Care Resources
Minnesota Palliative Care Advisory Council