Supportive care (also known as palliative care) is a type of specialized medical care for people suffering from a serious illness. This type of care is focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress that come with these illnesses and ultimately improving the quality of life—for both the patient and the family. Some studies have shown that supportive care may even extend life.

Supportive care provides the patient with a comprehensive team of specially-trained doctors, nurses and other specialists who work together with a current physician to provide an extra layer of support and comfort. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and it can be provided along with curative treatment, differing it from Hospice care.

Still confused? Let’s take a look at some commonly asked questions regarding supportive care.

  1. How Do I Know If Supportive Care is Right for Me?
    Supportive care may be right for you if you suffer from pain, stress or other symptoms due to a serious illness. Serious illnesses may include cancer, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s, HIV/AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and more. Supportive care can be provided at any stage of illness and along with treatment meant to cure you. Ask your current physician if supportive care is right for you.
  2. What Can I Expect from Supportive Care?
    You can expect relief from symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping. Supportive care helps you carry on with your daily life while improving your ability to go through medical treatments. It can also help you better understand your condition and the best choices for medical care. In short, you can expect the best possible quality of life.
  3. Who Provides Supportive Care?
    Supportive care is provided by a highly-trained team of experts including supportive care doctors, nurses and other specialists.
  4. Where do I Receive Supportive Care?
    Supportive care can be provided in a variety of settings including the hospital, outpatient clinic, at home, in a skilled nursing facility, or wherever you call home.
  5. How Does Supportive Care Work With My Own Doctor?
    The supportive care team works in partnership with your own doctor to provide an extra layer of support for you and your family. The team provides expert symptom management, extra time for communication about your goals and treatment options, and help navigating the health system.
  6. Does My Insurance Pay for Supportive Care?
    Most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover supportive care. If costs concern you, a social worker from the supportive care team can help you.
  7. How do I Get Supportive Care?
    You have to ask for it! Just tell your doctors and nurses that you would like to learn about what supportive care would mean for you and to meet your local supportive care team.

Supportive care supports and enhances all aspects of both your and your families health and well-being, and helps you to live the highest quality of life as possible during your illness.
Remember, supportive care is not hospice. It is care that is available at any stage of the illness process. To learn more about supportive care, go to or call (888) 502-4646.