Palliative care focuses on expert assessment and management of pain and other symptoms, assessment and support of caregiver needs, and coordination of care. Palliative care attends to the physical, functional, psychological, practical, and spiritual consequences of a serious illness. It is a person and family-centered approach to care, providing people living with serious illness relief from the symptoms and stress of an illness. Through early integration into the care plan for the seriously ill, palliative care improves quality of life for the patient and the family.
Seventeen years ago, leaders from across the country gathered to discuss the development of consensus guidelines for quality palliative care so that patients with serious illness who were not hospice-eligible could access palliative care. The 4th edition of the National Consensus Project (NCP) Guidelines is organized into 8 domains, which include: structure and process of care, physical aspects of care, psychological and psychiatric aspects, social aspects of care, spiritual, religious and existential aspects of care, cultural aspects of care, care of the patient nearing the end of life and ethical and legal aspects of care.
The NCP Guidelines are intended to encourage and guide health care organizations and clinicians (including non-palliative care specialists) across the care continuum to integrate palliative care principles and best practices into their routine assessment and care of all seriously ill patients .