Palliative Care FAQs

  • How Long Can You Be in Palliative Care?

    You can receive palliative care as long as services are medically necessary. That may mean until you enter hospice care or until you feel better and no longer need palliative services.

  • How Do I Get Palliative Care?

    You will need a referral from your physician (often a primary care provider) and a doctor’s order. An Amedisys care center near you can help with this process.

  • Who Pays for Palliative Care?

    Many people ask “Does Medicare pay for palliative care?” Palliative care services are typically covered by Medicare and some insurance plans. To learn more about the cost of palliative care, reach out to an Amedisys care center near you.

  • What is Palliative Care?

    Palliative care is person-centered, family-focused care that provides relief from the symptoms, side effects and stress of a serious illness. The primary goal is to improve the patient’s and family’s quality of life.

  • Who Can Receive Palliative Care?

    People facing a serious disease may receive palliative care after obtaining a physician’s referral and order. Heart disease, cancer, respiratory illness, Alzheimer’s/dementia, renal disease, chronic liver disease and diabetes are some commonly treated conditions. According to the World Health Organization, pain and difficulty breathing are the two most frequent and serious symptoms that palliative care addresses.

  • Who Provides Palliative Care?

    Nurse practitioners provide an initial consultation and follow-up visits to address the patient’s pain and symptoms. The nurse practitioner works in collaboration with our social workers and medical director, as well as your healthcare providers. Learn more about the palliative team.

  • Where Is Palliative Care Provided?

    Palliative care is available wherever you call home. For some, this is a private residence. Others may receive palliative care in a nursing home, hospital or other facility.

  • What Does Palliative Care Involve?

    Palliative care involves establishing individualized goals of care, including pain and symptom management and social support that can help you feel more comfortable and better able to enjoy life on your own terms. Learn more about our services.

  • What Does Palliative Care Focus On?

    A serious diagnosis can involve painful and upsetting physical symptoms as well as emotional distress. Palliative care focuses on helping you manage these challenges, so that you and your family can experience more peace of mind and better quality of life. Some of the symptoms we can help with include pain, shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, fatigue and insomnia.

  • What Can I Expect from a Palliative Care Program?

    • The Initial Assessment – A palliative nurse practitioner will conduct a pain and symptom assessment, check vital signs, discuss care needs and create a plan of care.
    • Follow-Up Visits – In subsequent visits, the nurse practitioner will help monitor and manage pain and other symptoms, and work with a social worker to help with planning and emotional support. Your follow-up visits may last between 30 minutes and 1.5 hours, depending on your needs. Typically, you will receive 1-2 visits per month and on an as-needed basis.
    • Coordination of Care – The palliative team will collaborate with your other healthcare providers to help ensure you receive coordinated care and safe, seamless transitions of care as needed.


  • What Are the Principles of Palliative Care?

    We abide by the core principles of palliative care as designated by the National Consensus Project for Quality Palliative Care. Palliative care:

    • Is appropriate at any stage of a serious illness and may be delivered with curative treatments. 
    • May be provided over time based on patient/family needs, not prognosis. 
    • Is offered in all care settings and anywhere a patient calls home. 
    • Is focused on what is most important to the patient, family, and caregiver(s), honoring their goals and preferences for care. 
    • Is delivered by an interdisciplinary team to attend to holistic care needs of the patient and their identified family and caregivers.

  • What Is the Goal of Pain Management?

    Our team is trained to administer pain-relieving medications for debilitating pain from cancer and other illnesses, in coordination with your doctor. The goal is to help you feel as comfortable as possible.

  • What Equipment Is Needed for Palliative Care at Home?

    During the initial consult, the nurse practitioner will be able to assess whether you need a wheelchair, hospital bed, oxygen equipment such as a ventilator, or other types of equipment.

  • Will the Palliative Team Take Over My Care?

    No. Your primary care provider will continue to manage your care. The palliative team will work closely with your healthcare providers to ensure your pain and symptoms are well-managed and advocate for your needs.

  • Can I Receive Other In-Home Care Services at the Same Time?

    Yes. You can receive palliative care if you are also receiving home health, personal care or other services in the home. Patients often receive these services at the same time, and our team can provide referrals to these types of care.

  • What If I Decline Services and Later Change My Mind?

    You can stay on our services as long as you need them. If you decline services, you can reconsider them at a later time. As long as palliative care remains medically necessary, you can re-initiate services at any time with a doctor’s order.

  • What Does It Mean to Be in Palliative Care?

    Families often wonder what it means for their loved one to be in palliative care. They worry that it could mean their loved one cannot be cured, for example. That is not necessarily the case. Palliative care provides relief from the pain, stress and symptoms of many serious illnesses, some of which are curable.

  • Is Palliative Care the Same as Hospice?

    Palliative care and hospice are two different types of care. While hospice is for patients who have a life expectancy of six months or less, palliative care can start at any stage of a serious illness—when a person is diagnosed, when they are receiving treatment to cure their illness, or when they are nearing the end of their life. Learn more about the differences.

  • What Is Palliative Care vs. Comfort Care?

    Since both palliative care and comfort care help you feel as comfortable as possible, they include many of the same services. The main distinction is that you can receive palliative care at the same time as other curative measures, whereas comfort care is typically only for when you have exhausted these treatments.

  • If I’m Receiving Treatment to Cure my Illness, Is Palliative Care Still an Option?

    Yes. You can receive palliative care at the same time you are trying to cure your illness. With the support of palliative care, your symptoms can be better managed, allowing you to do what is most important to you.

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