Frequently Asked Questions

What is Palliative Care?

Hospice/palliative care is aimed at relieving suffering and improving the quality of life for persons who are living with, or dying from, advanced illness or who are bereaved.

Palliative care is a special kind of health care for individuals and families who are living with a life limiting illness that is usually at an advanced stage. The goal of palliative care is to provide comfort and dignity for the person living with the illness as well as the best quality of life for both this person and his or her family. A "family" is whoever the person says his or her family is. It may include relatives, partners and friends.

An important objective of palliative care is relief of pain and other symptoms. Palliative care meets not only physical needs, but also psychological, social, cultural, emotional and spiritual needs of each person and family. Palliative care may be the main focus of care when a cure for the illness is no longer possible.

Palliative care services help people in later life who are ill to live out their remaining time in comfort and dignity. Palliative care services are helpful not only when a person is approaching death but also during the earlier stages of an illness. Palliative care may be combined with other treatments aimed at reducing or curing the illness, such as chemotherapy. Families also benefit from support when their loved one is dying and after his or her death.

Many aspects of palliative care are also applicable earlier in the course of illness in conjunction with active curative treatment.

For a more in depth discussion on the history, and development of palliative care - particularly in the Montreal area, please go to the Palliative Care McGill website.

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