The following organizations are among the leaders in palliative care in the U.S. and are resources for information:
Much of the work the Foundation is interested in funding through its mission-related grantmaking is referred to as “palliative care,” particularly in the context of hospitals and health systems. Palliative care is defined as "relieving or soothing the symptoms of a disease or disorder." Palliative care is for people of any age, and at any stage in an illness, whether that illness is curable, chronic, or life-threatening. The overall goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of life for patients and families dealing with serious illnesses, with a focus on relieving the symptoms, pain, and mental stress of illness. A palliative care team might be made up of specially-trained physicians, nurse practitioners, social workers, chaplains, and workers from other disciplines as needed, who can work in tandem with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support to the patient and his/her family.
Many people mistakenly believe that palliative care is only for patients with an incurable illness or at the end of life. Hospice care is a specific type of palliative care that is for patients nearing the end of life and no longer seeking a cure for their illness. Palliative care, on the other hand, is appropriate from the time of diagnosis and can be provided alongside curative treatment.
According to statistics published by the Center to Advance Palliative Care, approximately 90 million Americans are living with serious illness, and this number is expected to more than double over the next 25 years with the aging of the baby boomers. While access to palliative care has increased greatly in hospitals – nearly three-quarters of larger hospitals with 50 or more beds now have palliative care teams – it is much less available in outpatient, community, or home settings where it would also benefit patients and their families. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of palliative care-trained practitioners in the United States, which is sure to get worse as demand for this type of care increases along with the aging population.