Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. This type of care is focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness – whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses, and other specialists who work with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. Palliative care is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and can be provided together with curative treatment.

  • Palliative care is appropriate for patients who need help with pain, symptoms, suffering or distress at any stage of illness.
  • Palliative care affirms life by supporting the patient and family’s goals and hopes; palliative care neither hastens nor postpones death.
  • Palliative care is an approach to treatment that emphasizes patients’ goals and seeks to provide for comfort and quality of life.
  • Palliative care promotes dignity throughout the course of illness, the dying process, and death.


How do Palliative Care and Hospice differ?

The UNC Palliative Care Program works closely with UNC Hospice teams, to create a continuum of pain and symptom management and attention to quality of life across settings.  Hospice is available to persons who are nearing the end of their lives, who prefer to avoid hospitalization, and who seek care focused on comfort and quality of life. Hospice services are available in the home, in nursing care facilities, or in hospice inpatient units. Palliative Care can be requested much earlier, from the time a serious illness is diagnosed, and is available in hospitals, clinics, nursing care facilities and at home.