How Long Does Palliative Care Last?

How long does palliative care last? The duration of palliative care can depend on several factors. Keep reading to find out how long palliative care can last.

Haisey Home Care
January 22, 2024
x min read

As opposed to what many people assume, palliative care isn't limited to a specific period. It can last anywhere from a few months to a few years. 

The duration of palliative care can depend on many factors. The patient's health and the treatment are just some of them.

Whether you or your loved one is facing a serious illness, you should know what to expect. Palliative care can make the entire journey less stressful for you and your family.

In this "How long does palliative care last?" article, we'll go into detail about this form of care. Learn more about how palliative care can make a difference in your life.

What Is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is a type of support for people dealing with serious illnesses.

There are many aspects of palliative care. Pain and symptom management is one of the most important ones. Providing emotional and practical help is equally as vital.

Palliative care doesn't only focus on curing the illness, which, in some cases, might not be possible. This form of care also aims to increase the patient's comfort in a difficult period.

Palliative care can be given at any stage of the illness. The focus is on the well-being of the patient and their family.

It's not limited to specific diseases. Palliative care can be provided to those with: 

  • Serious and life-limiting illnesses
  • Neurological conditions
  • Advanced dementia
  • Multiple chronic conditions
  • Complex chronic illnesses
  • Rare diseases and conditions

As you can see, palliative care isn't only for people at the end of life.

It doesn't matter at what stage of a serious illness you are in. Even if you're going through other curative treatments, you can still receive palliative care.

The decision to receive palliative care depends on the patient's needs and goals. 

More often than not, it's a collaborative decision. The patient, their family, and healthcare providers make all the decisions together.

Also, note that palliative care and end-of-life care are not the same. A patient can receive palliative care at any point of their illness. As the name suggests, end-of-life care is for patients in the final stages of their illness. 

How Long Can Palliative Care Last?

The duration of palliative care often varies. There is no set time limit for this form of care.

Many factors can influence the length of palliative care. For example, the patient's illness, treatment trajectory, and individual needs. 

It's different from hospice care. The latter is specifically designed for those with a prognosis of six months or less to live. 

Palliative care can be provided at any stage of a serious illness. Its duration is not limited.

We can divide the length of palliative care into four categories:

  1. Short-term
  2. Long-term
  3. Integrative
  4. Transitioning to hospice

It's important to note that palliative care is flexible. It's adaptable to the evolving needs of the patient. 

The healthcare team regularly checks the patient's condition. They collaborate with the patient and their family to make sure the care plan meets their needs. 

The duration of palliative care is personalised to unique circumstances. It may change over time. It's mainly based on the progression of the illness. How the patient responds to the treatment also impacts the length. 

Short-Term Palliative Care

Some people receive palliative care for a relatively brief period. This is usually the case when the focus is on managing specific symptoms. 

When the care team must address immediate needs, they may turn to palliative care. For example, if a patient is experiencing severe pain. Short-term palliative care helps with effective pain management.

This might occur during a hospital stay. It can also be a part of a transitional phase in care. For instance, if a patient moves from a hospital to their home to receive care

In some cases, short-term palliative care can be given alongside end-of-life planning.

Long-Term Palliative Care

Those with chronic or progressive illnesses can use palliative care. In this case, it can be ongoing and provided over an extended period. 

This allows the healthcare team to adapt the care plan. They look at the changing needs and circumstances of the patient.

Long-term palliative care is all about continuous and sustained care throughout the course of the illness.

Key aspects of long-term palliative care include:

  1. Chronic or progressive illnesses
  2. Holistic approach
  3. Ongoing symptom management
  4. Adapting to changing needs
  5. End-of-life planning
  6. Emotional support
  7. Improving the quality of life

Long-term palliative care doesn't only deal with physical symptoms. It also addresses emotional, social, and spiritual aspects.

Integrative Palliative Care

Palliative care can be integrated into a patient's treatment plan. It works alongside curative or life-prolonging treatments. 

This type of care combines palliative care principles with curative or life-prolonging treatments.

The goal is to provide comprehensive, patient-centred care. It should address the complex needs of those facing serious, life-limiting illnesses.

In such cases, the duration of palliative care is as long as the illness.

Transitioning to Hospice

In some situations, palliative care may transition to hospice care. This happens when the patient's prognosis becomes terminal. It's typically with a life expectancy of six months or less. 

Hospice care is a specialised form of palliative care. Its primary focus is end-of-life support.

Hospice care is typically provided in the patient's home. It can also be provided in an assisted living facility or a nursing home. 

The goal is to provide care in a familiar and comfortable environment.

This form of palliative care also comes with respite care. This gives family caregivers a chance to take a break. 

It also includes bereavement support, one of the five stages of palliative care.

Factors That Affect the Duration of Palliative Care

The duration of palliative care depends on several factors, which include:

  • The type and stage of illness
  • Treatment trajectory
  • Individual needs and preferences
  • Response to treatment
  • Transition in care
  • Collaboration with other treatments
  • Wishes about end-of-life-care
  • Family and caregiver support

The nature of the illness and its stage matter the most. Palliative care can be provided at any stage of a serious illness. The illness can be chronic, progressive, or in an acute phase. 

The treatment trajectory also plays an important role. If the focus is on managing symptoms along with curative treatments, it may be shorter. For those with a life-limiting illness, palliative care may last over a longer period.

The goals of the person receiving palliative care can impact its length.

The patient's response to palliative interventions is also considered. If the care plan is effectively managing symptoms and improving the individual's quality of life, it may continue. 

Palliative care can transition to different phases of care. It may start during active treatment and continue into survivorship. It can also grow into end-of-life care, especially if the patient's prognosis becomes terminal.

The patient's wishes about end-of-life care play a role. 

The patient may wish to transition to hospice care. They also may want to receive a more intensive treatment. This calls for more palliative support. All these changes can impact the length of palliative care.

Understanding the Length of Palliative Care

Palliative care can last a few months, and it can also extend to a few years. It depends on many factors. Some of them include the patient's condition, prognosis, and personal wishes. 

If you're looking for quality palliative care, Haisey Home Care offers such services. We're an approved home care provider specialising in aged care services. We also offer palliative care for those who need it. 

If you're interested in our palliative care services, contact us. If you want to speed up the process, you can also book a free consultation