This Article Was Updated on 3/29/2022
When a patient receives care for chronic illness there are two main types of treatment–curative and palliative care. If you have a loved one who is dealing with a condition such as this, understanding the differences is vital. We’ve put together some basic information about the difference between curative and palliative measures that can help you with making decisions regarding the care that is administered.
What is Curative Care?
Curative care can take on many forms, but all forms of curative care have a common goal – to help the patient overcome their illness or to advance their recovery. This type of care extends the patient’s lifespan and improves their quality of life.
By all measures, curative care is the most common type of care provided in the United States.
Curative care is designed to cure a disease or aid in recovery from an illness or injury. Curative care may be given in a hospital, outpatient office, and at home. Care measures include surgery, medications, therapies, and specialty treatments. Some examples of curative measures include a liver transplant, physical therapy, chemotherapy, or taking an antibiotic. With curative care, the patient and his or her team are actively working towards the best possible way to cure the disease or heal the injury.
When is Curative Care Appropriate?
This type of care is appropriate when there is a chance that medical treatment will be successful in restoring the patient’s health. Curative care for terminal illnesses is aggressive, and often include advanced therapies. In some cases, curative care may include significant side effects that are deemed acceptable because there is a real possibility that treatment could bring about a cure; palliative care can help the patient manage side effects as they receive curative care.
Examples of curative care include:
- Antibiotics for bacterial infections
- Cast for a broken limb
- Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy or targeted therapies for cancer
- Dialysis treatment for kidney failure
- Surgery for appendicitis
- Insulin for diabetes
What is Palliative Care?
With palliative care, the idea is to help comfort and bring relief from a significant illness that may or may not be limiting to life. Palliative care can be administered at home, a hospital, or a long-term care center. With palliative care, the goal is to provide comfort, such as with pain medication or non-invasive therapies. There are often additional services offered such as care coordination, social work, and assistance with preparing an advance directive.
Contrary to popular belief, palliative care is not only utilized during the final days of life. In fact, some people will live for years while receiving palliative care. It is not necessary to stop curative treatments and opting for palliative care does not mean you can’t continue to keep fighting your illness. It simply offers the patient some additional tools to keep them comfortable and work out details with their family during this time.
In many cases, it is not necessary to stop curative measures to receive palliative care. It is important to understand that these two different types of care can be used concurrently in some situations. Also, someone who is receiving palliative care may opt for curative treatment at a later date if something changes with their medical situation.
For example; if an individual was diagnosed with late-stage cancer and opted to just work towards comfort rather than seeking chemotherapy began seeing signs the cancer was slowing on its own, he or she might look at other treatments at that time.
5 stages of palliative care
During this first stage, the patient, family and healthcare team work together to develop an end-of-life care plan that prioritizes the patient’s quality of life and comfort.
Social workers, chaplains, and other members of a palliative interdisciplinary team provide emotional and spiritual care for patients and their families.
At the third stage, doctors work to ensure that the patient can remain as independent as possible. Patients receive services from home health aides and certified nursing assistance (CNAs) who help with bathing and other activities of daily living; volunteers help with grocery shopping and other errands. Nursing teams work with doctors to help evaluate the patient’s needs, control the patient’s symptoms, and manage prescriptions.
At the patient’s discretion, palliative care providers make inpatient care arrangements at a hospital, hospice facility, or nursing home.
Stage 5 focuses on providing bereavement support for the family once the patient passes. Families can utilize bereavement services for up to one year while they heal during this challenging time.
Because every patient’s journey is different, Serenity Oaks provides individualized palliative care throughout the five stages.
Why Serenity Oaks?
At Serenity Oaks, particularly with our hospice care services, we help families work through deciding on what type of care plan is the best for their loved ones during the most critical times. If you would like to learn more about the services we offer and how we can help your family, reach out to us online or by phone today. We look forward to working with you.