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What is palliative care?

Palliative (PAL-lee-uh-tive) care is specialized, supportive care for people who have serious illnesses. It helps them cope better with pain, stress and other health problems, plus the side effects of their medicines and treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation.

Palliative care is helpful at any stage of a serious illness, when you are struggling to feel better and worry less.


Who is it for?

Palliative care can help people of any age who:

  • have a serious illness, but are not at the end of life,
  • are not getting enough relief from their medications and other treatment, and
  • have trouble leaving home or traveling to their doctor or clinic because of their illness.

This service can also support a person’s family caregivers, because it looks at more than just the medical concerns that affect a family when someone is seriously ill.


How does it help?

Agrace offers Palliative Care Consultations, which are detailed, in-home visits made by an Agrace doctor or nurse practitioner. The visit lasts about two hours, which allows time for detailed conversation.

During this consult visit: 

  • An Agrace nurse practitioner or doctor will give you a physical exam, ask you about any troubling symptoms, and talk with you about how medicines and other treatments are working.
  • You will talk about your goals for care and what is preventing you from meeting your goals.
  • You will have time to discuss things that are causing you to worry, and your choices for future treatment.
  • The Agrace nurse practitioner will explain other community resources that might help, such as meal delivery or support organizations that help people with your illness.

After the visit, Agrace will give you and your doctor ideas to help improve your comfort and reduce stress, such as trying different medicines or treatments, or making lifestyle changes. You and your doctor can decide which changes you want to make to meet your goals. With your doctor’s approval, Agrace can make follow-up visits to check on how well the changes are working.


Is it different from hospice?

Palliative care is meant to bring comfort, but it is not the same as hospice care.

Hospice care is specifically for people whose main goal is comfort, not a cure, and who are likely in their last six months of life. You usually cannot have hospice care while you are also having treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation with the goal of being cured. The services included in hospice care are very well defined by Medicare and are similar from one hospice to another across America.

Palliative care is appropriate at any stage of a serious illness, regardless of your prognosis. You can have it while you continue to get treatment in the hope of being cured. In fact, palliative care can be very helpful to people who are struggling with the physical and emotional stress and the side effects of their treatment.

Palliative care services vary in the types of support they offer, and where the care is provided. Agrace’s Palliative Care Consultations include an initial in-home assessment visit, with one or more follow-up visits, if needed, to help you implement any changes you decide to make.


What does it cost?

Medicare, Medicaid and most insurers usually cover Agrace’s Palliative Care Consultations, including follow-up visits. You may have to make a co-payment, as you would if you were visiting your doctor’s office.

If you do not have insurance and cannot pay for the consultation, Agrace may be able to offer you help paying, through our Care for All program. This donor-funded program offers help paying when our patients cannot afford the care they need from Agrace.


How do I get started?

You can ask your doctor to call Agrace Palliative Care, or you can contact us directly to schedule a visit. We will check with your doctor before we visit.

 (800) 930-2770

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