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Palliative Care

  • Offering compassionate care and improving quality of life.

    Offering compassionate care and improving quality of life.

    Our experts provide specialized care for patients with life-altering illnesses.

Indiana University Health Palliative Care offers specialized care for patients with life-altering illnesses. We focus exclusively on improving your quality of life through pain and symptom management, spiritual counseling and assistance in healthcare planning.

Many people confuse palliative care with hospice care. Hospice care is intended to alleviate pain and discomfort for patients with six months or less to live if their illness follows its typical course. During hospice care, patients do not receive any treatments that may cure the illness.

Palliative care is available to anyone diagnosed with a serious condition and this type of care can begin at any stage in the illness, even upon onset. Palliative options are typically provided in the hospital and patients receive a combination of curative and comfort treatments for an extended period of time. Patients also receive spiritual counseling from a chaplain and education from a social worker on medical, legal and financial options.

Common diseases that require palliative care include:

  • Cancer
  • Heart failure
  • Liver failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Our physician-led team of social workers, advanced practice nurses and chaplains works closely with you to determine your treatment goals. We support your goals by coordinating your care with other physicians, developing a treatment plan to match your wishes and giving you resources for legal and financial planning. We assist you in making healthcare decisions about advanced directives, transitions to other facilities and even end-of-life care.

IU Health Palliative Care physicians use comprehensive treatment options that are personalized to meet your healthcare goals. We understand the physical and emotional challenges you are facing and work to relieve your symptoms through medicines, counseling and other therapies. We are with you every step of the way, providing help and support to you and your family.

Treatments options we provide include, but are not limited to:

  • End-of-Life Planning

    Even at advanced stages of your disease, we are dedicated to improving your quality of life and giving you personalized care that is focused on you, not your disease. IU Health Palliative Care teams explain advance directives, living wills and physician orders for scope of treatment (POST) forms that ensure you will receive the care you want, even if you cannot express your wishes. Our team also sets up consultations and a transition to IU Health Hospice services, as necessary, so you receive advanced care 24 hours a day from any location.

    Our team offers comprehensive care through these end-of-life planning services:

    • Funeral planning. Our social workers take you step-by-step through your funeral preferences and help you express these wishes to your loved ones.
    • Advanced directives. Advanced directives allow you to designate a healthcare representative who carries out your wishes if you cannot communicate them. These forms may include your decisions on whether to be treated with artificial nutrition, CPR or ventilators.
    • Transition to hospice. We provide a seamless transition to IU Health Hospice so you continue receiving high-quality care at home.
  • Pain Control

    IU Health Palliative Care physicians are board certified and specially trained to alleviate your pain and improve your quality of life. Our palliative care experts understand how pain medicines interact with other treatments and will monitor your care closely to ensure you continue to experience pain relief as your condition changes.

    IU Health Palliative Care physicians reduce pain and discomfort using the following services:

    • Medication therapies. Our physicians assess your pain on an ongoing basis to ensure you are receiving the most effective pain medicine.
    • Referral to specialists. If the cause of your pain requires further treatment, our physicians can refer you to other IU Health specialists and coordinate your care.
  • Spiritual & Psychosocial Care

    Our board-certified chaplains and social workers are specially trained to meet your spiritual and psychosocial needs. We believe every patient should receive high-quality, personalized care that relieves both physical and emotional pain. Psychosocial care ensures you continue to feel connected to your family, friends and community, which is an important element of emotional health. We help you communicate how you feel so you can make sense of your diagnosis, communicate clearly with your loved ones and plan for your future.

    Our team provides the following services to improve emotional health and help you communicate how you feel to your loved ones:

    • Spiritual counseling. Our chaplains and social workers offer unbiased care for people of all beliefs. We support you and your family as you work through a full range of emotions, from grief to anger.
    • Funeral planning. Your social worker gives you the resources you need to lay out your final wishes and find financial resources, if needed.
    • Advanced directives. Advanced directives outline your medical decisions and designate a healthcare representative. These directives ensure that if you cannot speak for yourself, your wishes are still followed.
  • Symptom Management

    Indiana University Health Palliative Care physicians focus on improving your quality of life by controlling the symptoms of your life-altering illness. We work with you to find treatment for your symptoms that fits your lifestyle and condition without causing further pain or complications. From medicines to surgery to counseling, we offer comprehensive options for reducing the severity of your symptoms.

    We manage the symptoms of your illness using the services below:

    • Medicine therapies. Some medicines reduce the severity or frequency of your symptoms. Our physicians monitor your symptoms closely and change your medicines as necessary.
    • Palliative chemotherapy. For some patients, chemotherapy can reduce pain and other symptoms caused by cancer. Though it may not cure the condition, it could increase life expectancy and eliminate symptoms for a time.
    • Palliative surgery. Surgical procedures are another possible treatment option to reduce pain or other symptoms associated with your condition. 
    • Spiritual counseling. Not all symptoms can be seen. Spiritual counseling improves symptoms such as depression and anxiety while helping you cope with your diagnosis.
    • Referral to specialists. If you require more advanced treatment options, our physicians refer you to other IU Health experts while seamlessly coordinating your care.
  • Treatment & Transition Planning

    The Palliative Care team at Indiana University Health works closely with you and your family to determine the goals of your treatment and give you the support you need to make complicated and difficult medical decisions. We guide you through the healthcare system, coordinating your care with all appropriate departments in the hospital to ensure you receive the care you feel is best for you. 

    We help guide you through your treatment process using the services below:

    • Treatment planning. Your Palliative Care team, including physicians, social workers, advanced practice nurses and chaplains, meets with you to thoroughly discuss your condition, answer your questions and identify your health goals.
    • Care coordination. Our team ensures you receive the care that matches your goals, and that your care is seamless between multiple physicians or departments in the hospital.
    • Referral to specialists. Depending on your condition, your changing care needs may require you to see several physicians. We refer you to other IU Health experts to receive advanced care for your condition.
    • Referral to hospice. If necessary, our physicians offer a seamless transition to IU Health Hospice so you continue to receive personalized, high-quality care.

Palliative Care Team

IU Health Palliative Care uses an interdisciplinary team approach to provide comprehensive, compassionate care for your overall well-being, including your physical and emotional health. Our physicians, social workers, chaplains and advanced practice nurses are specially trained in palliative care and serve as consultants for your current primary doctors and specialists. With years of experience and expertise focused on improving quality of life, we are here to ensure your care meets your individual needs and wishes.

Learn More About Palliative Care

Palliative care gives you the extra support you need at a difficult time in your life. Learn more about palliative care treatments and planning for you or a loved one using the resources below.  

American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) This physician society website answers your frequently asked questions about palliative care, hosts patients stories and links to financial and legal resources.

Family Caregiver Alliance This website answers your frequently asked questions on end-of-life planning.

GetPalliativeCare.org This website features a directory of palliative care services and a blog featuring stories, articles and the latest news on palliative care.

National Institute on Aging The National Institute on Aging website hosts information on giving care at the end of life, planning for end of life and how to handle grief.