What to Expect from Your First Palliative Care Meeting

Older woman and her daughter attend a palliative care meeting with a palliative care clinician

If you are facing a serious illness and have asked for palliative care, you may be wondering what the first meeting will be like. Here are five things you can expect.

You will learn how the palliative care team can help

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. The core palliative care team typically includes palliative care doctors, nurses, and social workers. This team approach is there to give you an extra layer of support.

You will get to ask questions

Palliative care is a two-way relationship between you and your health care team. In every meeting, you can ask any questions about palliative care, about your illness, and about your treatment options. Here are some suggestions of what to ask in your first meeting.

You will be at the center of your care

Palliative care is patient-centered, which means that the team wants to hear your story. In addition to addressing your pain and other symptoms, they will give you the chance to discuss how your illness is affecting your life. You will also be able to talk about any fears or anxieties surrounding your illness, treatments, or medications.

“Every person is different,” says Dr. Rab Razzak of the Cleveland Clinic. “Because of that, it is vital that we get to know who the patient is and what his or her values are so we can begin to discuss their goals or decisions for treatment or pain management.”

Close communication with all your doctors

The palliative care team works in close partnership and communication with your other doctors. Because of this, they can provide you with a full understanding of your illness and your symptoms.

The goal of the first palliative care meeting is to eliminate any confusion about your care. You and your team will explore your personal goals and needs. They want you and your loved ones to leave the meeting feeling both informed and empowered to take the next steps with confidence.

Your loved ones have seats at the table too

Your palliative care team welcomes your family members or anyone in your support system to each meeting. Your team can provide them with emotional support, and they can give them tools to help care for you. If you would like, they will also include them in making decisions.

Laura is the daughter of a patient who is receiving palliative care. Hear her discuss the experience of meeting with the palliative care team.

About GetPalliativeCare.Org

GetPalliativeCare.Org is an online resource for patients and families that focuses solely on providing information on palliative care from the point of diagnosis. At GetPalliativeCare.org you can take a short quiz to see whether you or a loved one could benefit from palliative care. The site is provided by the Center to Advance Palliative Care.