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What is a Palliative Care Unit?

A Palliative Care Unit is a specialized medical facility dedicated to providing compassionate care focused on relieving the symptoms and stress of serious illness. It's a sanctuary where patients and their families receive holistic support, addressing physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Imagine a place where comfort is paramount, and every picture tells a story of dignity and care. Curious to see more? Join us as we explore the heart of palliative care through vivid imagery.
Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier

A palliative care unit (PCU) is a medical unit that specializes in using integrative therapeutic strategies to manage symptoms in patients who suffer from disease that is not responsive to conventional treatments. Some PCUs stand alone as independent in-patient treatment centers, while others are incorporated into hospitals, hospice centers, and other types of facilities. Patients typically served by a palliative care unit are in the advanced stages of a progressive and terminal disease, although many patients may receive palliative care much earlier. Clinicians and nursing professionals who specialize in palliative medicine provide services on a day-to-day in-patient basis, and may also act as consultants to those receiving hospice care at home.

The term palliative medicine is taken from the word palliate, which means to ease or minimize. While the primary objective of a palliative care unit is to ease physical discomfort for the patient, a secondary goal is to ease anxiety and stress often experienced by the patient’s family and other caregivers. A natural consequence of these efforts is an improved quality of life for both the patient and his or her loved ones. As such, the staff assists patients with end of life care and families in coping with the bereavement process.

A palliative care unit  may serve patients who are suffering from a terminal disease.
A palliative care unit may serve patients who are suffering from a terminal disease.

Since the aim of a palliative care unit is to integrate multiple modalities, the medical staff typically works in teams that also include social workers, mental health specialists, clergy, nutritionists, occupational therapists, and other key support providers. This networked approach is essential to the fundamentals of palliative medicine, which combines psychological, rehabilitative, spiritual, and social support. In addition, various complementary therapies may also be incorporated into a patient’s care program, such as botanical medicine, guided imagery, and meditation. However, while all of these multidisciplinary tools may be employed to improve and even prolong life, they are not offered with an ambition to cure.

Emotional palliative care services may include grief counseling for caregivers and patients alike.
Emotional palliative care services may include grief counseling for caregivers and patients alike.

Every palliative care unit places as much importance on dying with dignity as it does on quality of remaining life. In fact, death is viewed as a natural part of the rhythm of life and not the end of a life’s journey. Therefore, in addition to providing grief and bereavement counseling for the living, another aspect to palliative care is to help the patient make conscious decisions about death. This may include providing legal resources to assist in funeral and estate planning, as well as the appointment of a power of attorney to oversee such arrangements.

A palliative care unit helps individuals cope with the bereavement process.
A palliative care unit helps individuals cope with the bereavement process.

By definition, palliative care is perceived a bit differently in various parts of the world. In many countries, such as Australia, Canada, and the UK, palliative medicine is essentially the same as hospice care and is formerly acknowledged as a medical specialty. In the US, on the other hand, hospice care is reserved for those who are near the end of life, while palliative medicine is technically defined as a system of managed care for patients in any stage of disease.

Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier

Contributing articles to TheHealthBoard is just one of Karyn’s many professional endeavors. She is also a magazine writer and columnist, mainly for health-related publications, as well as the author of four books. Karyn lives in New York’s Catskill Mountain region and specializes in topics about green living and botanical medicine.

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Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier

Contributing articles to TheHealthBoard is just one of Karyn’s many professional endeavors. She is also a magazine writer and columnist, mainly for health-related publications, as well as the author of four books. Karyn lives in New York’s Catskill Mountain region and specializes in topics about green living and botanical medicine.

Learn more...

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    • A palliative care unit  may serve patients who are suffering from a terminal disease.
      By: CandyBox Images
      A palliative care unit may serve patients who are suffering from a terminal disease.
    • Emotional palliative care services may include grief counseling for caregivers and patients alike.
      By: Monkey Business
      Emotional palliative care services may include grief counseling for caregivers and patients alike.
    • A palliative care unit helps individuals cope with the bereavement process.
      By: michaeljung
      A palliative care unit helps individuals cope with the bereavement process.
    • Palliative care units place great importance on dying with dignity.
      By: Hakan Kızıltan
      Palliative care units place great importance on dying with dignity.