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What is Palliative and End-of-Life Care

What is it?

Palliative and end-of-life care is special medical care for adults and children diagnosed with a ser​ious illness that will shorten their life (a life-limiting illness). This type of care is focused on helping you to be comfortable, with the best quality of life possible.

The care is given by a palliative and end-of-life care team that works with you, your family and caregivers, and your family doctor. You all work together to make health care decisions that are right for you.

The Palliative and End-of-Life Care (PEOLC) Framework

A Provincial Framework was developed with the intention of improving patient care to all Albertans regardless of the type of life limiting illness or geographic location in which one resides. The Framework was built around Alberta Health Services (AHS) seven core values and the mission of providing a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans. View the introduction to this framework below:

Palliative and End-of-Life Care: An Introduction to Alberta’s Framework

Palliative and End-of-Life Care Alberta Provincial Framework Addendum

Palliative and End-of-Life Care: Working together for Albertans

Partnerships in Palliative and End-of-Life Care in Alberta


When does it start?

Palliative and end-of-life care may start at the time you’re diagnosed with a serious illness, all the way through to the time after death, including bereavement support for your family.

Who is it for?

Palliative and end-of-life care supports you and your family through your whole illness. It’s not only for people who are close to dying from a serious illness (e.g., cancer or heart failure). It’s also for people who have many months to live, with illnesses that don’t get better or may get worse over time. Health professionals, programs, and services work to meet your goals so you get the most quality out of life.

People can live for many years with a chronic disease. Palliative and end-of-life care gives extra support at all stages of a chronic illness, not just near the end-of-​life

Read stories about how palliative and end-of-life care is making a difference for people in Alberta.

What types of services are offered?

Your palliative and end-of-life care services are based on your wishes and goals. Decisions about your health care are based on your choices through Advance Care Planning, which is a very important health policy in Alberta.

Services may be different depending on where you live. Here are some that may be included:

  • supporting you to live and feel as well as possible
  • helping you make decisions about where to get care (e.g., your home, a hospice, a hospital, or continuing care centre) as your illness and needs change
  • helping you and your family decide on your goals of care
  • managing your pain and symptoms (e.g. nausea, breathing problems)
  • helping you and your family understand what to expect from your illness
  • giving emotional and spiritual support
  • answering questions about the end-of-life (e.g., organ and tissue donation, funeral plans)
  • offering volunteer support for you (e.g., making meals, running errands)
  • connecting your family to grief and bereavement services

Find out what services​ are offered near you.

Is there support for my family and caregivers?

Palliative and end-of-life care also supports your family and caregivers. These supports may include:

  • help understanding and managing the details of your care
  • breaks (respite care) from being a caregiver
  • information on what to expect as a loved one reaches the end-of-life
  • counseling and support before and after a death

Learn more — videos about palliative end-of-life care:

Palliative Care: You Are a Bridge (Get Palliative Care)
Shows us how palliative care is like the foundation of a bridge. An illness may weaken the foundation, but the palliative care team is there to give you a stronger layer of support.​​​​​​​​​