What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care improves quality of life for patients and families facing serious or chronic illness — whatever the diagnosis or prognosis. It prevents and relieves suffering by addressing pain as well as the physical, emotional, psycho-social and spiritual problems associated with serious and chronic conditions.

The following video of Judith Redwing Keyssar, RN, BA clarifies the definition further. A member of the team working on the development of the CSU Institute for Palliative Care since its inception, she is currently a member of the Institute Steering Community and the Director of the Palliative Care Program at Seniors at Home/Jewish Family and Children's Services of the Bay Area.

What Does Palliative Care Do?

Palliative care:

  • Provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms.
  • Enhances quality of life, and may also positively influence the course of illness.
  • Integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care.
  • Uses an interdisciplinary team approach to address the needs of patients and their families. This typically includes a physician, nurse, social worker, pharmacist, chaplain and others as needed.
  • Offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible throughout the course of an illness.
  • Offers a support system to help loved ones cope with stress during the patients' illness and in their own bereavement.
  • Is applicable early in the course of illness, in conjunction with other therapies that are intended to cure an illness or prolong life, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgical procedures, etc.
  • Affirms life and regards dying as a normal process.
Caregiver Handbook for Palliative Care