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What is Comfort Care?

Woman receiving comfort care

Comfort care can be provided in a hospital, a long-term care home, a hospice, or at home. The goal is to keep you as comfortable as possible, so the focus is NOT on curing you.

For example, you may receive medications to help with pain or breathing problems. However, you may not receive curative treatments, such as antibiotics, a breathing tube or CPR.

These curative treatments would help to keep you alive longer, but may cause you pain or make you uncomfortable and are not part of comfort measures only. Comfort care focuses on managing symptoms and is sometimes called a ‘palliative approach’. It may or may not involve services from palliative care clinicians. 

Outcomes of Comfort Care

About 95% of patients with a serious illness who receive comfort care do not survive their illness. However, with comfort care they are much more likely to experience a higher quality of life at the end of their life, with a more natural death that doesn’t include the use of many machines or being in the intensive care unit.

Risks and Benefits

Benefits

  • Improved quality of life at the end of your life.
  • You are kept as comfortable as possible.
  • Because fewer technologies will be used, there is a more natural death experience, often in a location that you or family members prefer.

Risks

  • You may die more quickly.
  • You may die from a disease that could have potentially been cured with a treatment, but you were not offered this treatment because you only wanted to remain comfortable.

Is Comfort Care right for you?

Most people who choose comfort care have serious medical problems that can’t be cured. In addition, they may be very old or have a poor quality of life and don’t want any treatments to help them live longer. Instead, they would rather be made comfortable. 

This video shows an example of this type of conversation between a doctor and a patient:

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To live well, age well, and die well, you need to Plan Well