Here at UF Health we carefully evaluate each person as a whole and unique individual, then develop a comprehensive treatment plan based on the patient’s goals of care to relieve physical, emotional and spiritual suffering. Our overall goal is to improve and enhance the quality of life for patients and their families, so they can live each day to the fullest.
What is palliative care?
Palliative care, also known as supportive care, comes from the Latin root pallium, which refers to an outer garment that cloaks a person. Palliative care “cloaks” the symptoms of illness, adding quality to each day. Delivered by an interdisciplinary team, including a patient’s individual physician, palliative care physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, psychologists and pharmacists, palliative care is designed to help patients diagnosed with serious and life-limiting illness.
Palliative care is different from Hospice care, as it is appropriate at any age, from pediatrics to geriatrics, and at any stage of a serious illness. It can be used in conjunction with curative treatment such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Hospice is appropriate when a person is diagnosed with a terminal condition and their life expectancy is less than 6 months.
UF Health has adopted the World Health Organization definition and mission of palliative care delivery. Our goals include:
- Providing relief from pain and suffering by aggressive treatment of distressing symptoms including pain, shortness of breath, nausea, fatigue, insomnia and constipation.
- Offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death by to increasing function with physical and occupational therapy.
- Assist with goals of care planning including assisting patients in completion of Advance Directives and Health Care Surrogate forms.
- Integrates the patient’s spiritual and religious beliefs into their health care with the support of chaplains and priests.
- Integrates psychological and mental health support from social workers and trained psychologists and psychiatrists.
- Offers a support system to the family of ill patients, to help them cope during the patient’s illness and in their own bereavement.
- Offer UF Health Integrative Medicine consultation to use techniques associated with complementary and alternative medications such as herbal medication, mind and body connection with therapies such as acupuncture, massage, yoga and meditation.
- Offer UF Health Shands Art in Medicine consultation for patients to enjoy art, music, life journaling or to use art to express their illness and connect them to their families and health care providers to improve quality of life.
- Animals in medicine, such as therapy dogs and patients own pets, are very powerful healers. They are sensitive to human moods and emotions, and have a therapeutic effect on those in need of comforting. They cheer up patients and the presence of therapy dogs leads to laughter and comfort, and may help to decrease feelings of isolation. The touch of an animal is safe, non-threatening, and pleasant.
- Affirms life and regards dying as a normal process that can be planned in a way to allow patients and their families a comfortable and peaceful end of life.
Our academic mission includes delivering high quality clinical care, educating the future generation of health care professionals and research to expand evidence based practice. We strive to practice population health by delivering high value care to improve patient, family and provider experience with the health care system.
Sheri Kittelson, MD
Associate Professor and Chief