Persons facing serious illness and persons approaching the end of life should receive care that is compassionate, competent, and that addresses the needs of the whole person — body, mind, and spirit. They have a right to expect care that begins with advanced planning and includes full information about their health condition; active participation in decisions about their care; high quality medical, nursing and psycho-social services that includes relief of pain and other symptoms; and attention to spiritual needs that helps them find meaning and peace of mind in the face of their illness. Palliative care supports persons who are seriously ill as well as their families and caregivers.
Compassionate care to all persons, especially to persons who are in pain and who are dying, has been a hallmark of Catholic health care. We are following the example of Jesus when we care for people who are in great need. Such care is described in Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services in its discussions on sanctity of life, stewardship, and treating pain. Our view on the sanctity of life is based on the conviction that every individual life is created by God and in the image of God. For more information about CHA's positions on this issue, see Compassionate Palliative Care.