Palliative Care

Supportive palliative care for people with serious illness

A doctor talks to young woman, representing the extra support from palliative care experts when you're coping with a serious illness.

Supportive palliative care for people with serious illness

When you’re living with a serious illness, you often need more than the medical treatment you’re already receiving. Palliative care provides an extra layer of support by helping patients and families manage pain and other symptoms, offering emotional and spiritual support, comfort care and improved quality of life. 

If you have a serious illness — or care for someone who does — our palliative care team at Scripps may be right for you.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is a supportive type of health care designed to benefit patients living with complex, chronic and serious illness, and their families. Unlike hospice care, which supports terminally ill patients through the end of life, palliative care can be provided with curative medical treatments and is appropriate regardless of age or disease stage. With a compassionate approach and the patients preferences in mind, we help maintain the highest quality of life possible during illness.

What benefits does palliative care offer?

Scripps palliative care offers a range of benefits to patients, family and caregivers, including:

  • Help with pain relief
  • Management of symptoms, such as nausea, shortness of breath, lack of appetite, dementia, depression, anxiety, grief and fatigue
  • Access to education and resources related to care
  • Assistance with care-related decisions, advanced care planning and appropriate documentation
  • Coordination of all aspects of care, including medical, emotional and spiritual services
  • Help with a smooth transition from the hospital to home and community, and referrals to our outpatient clinic

Who can benefit from palliative care?

Patients who have been diagnosed with a serious illness, or who have a complex ongoing medical condition that affects their quality of life, may benefit from palliative care support and resources. In addition, palliative care can help people who are often hospitalized or frequently require emergency care.

Our patients have a range of conditions including:

  • Cancer
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Advanced heart failure and left ventricular assist device (LVAD)
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Stroke
  • End-stage renal failure (ESRF)
  • Frailty
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Advanced lung disease

Who is on the palliative care team?

Our dedicated, multidisciplinary team offers the combined expertise and resources of experienced, caring palliative care specialists, including:

  • Board-certified palliative medicine physicians
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Registered nurses
  • Licensed clinical social workers

Should patients or families need other resources, such as in-home care or legal assistance, we can help with appropriate referrals.

How should I prepare for my first appointment?

Please prepare for your first appointment with Scripps Palliative Care by locating and organizing your medical records. Please plan to bring your records and documents, including:

  • One valid photo identification (driver’s license, state ID, military ID or passport)
  • Current insurance card(s)
  • A list of your current physicians with addresses and phone numbers
  • A list of your medications and dosages 
  • Your pharmacy’s contact information
  • A list of any allergies you have
  • Medical power of attorney, living will and/or POLST form (if you have them)

Questions to ask your palliative care team

If palliative care is new to you and your family, you'll likely have questions for your physician and palliative care team. Here are some of the most common questions patients ask:

  • How do I cope with physical changes as a result of my illness? 
  • What can be done to improve my symptoms? 
  • What are the roles of other physicians and care providers while I am receiving palliative care support? 
  • What are the common side effects of my medications and should I stop taking any of my current medications? 
  • Can someone help me communicate with other family members and is there any support available for them?

For referring providers

Patients benefit most from palliative support when they are referred by their Scripps specialist or primary care physician.

Referring with Epic

Use Referring to Dept: SHGH OP PALLIATIVE

Referring without Epic

Fill out the referral form (PDF, 390 KB) and fax to 619-452-7390.

Questions? Contact Scripps Palliative Care at 858-678-6580.

Palliative care clinic locations

Scripps offers palliative care clinics in La Jolla and Hillcrest. Both locations require a referral from your doctor before scheduling an appointment.

Outpatient palliative care clinic

Scripps Cancer Center

10670 John Jay Hopkins Drive

La Jolla, CA 92121 


Clinic hours

Monday: 9 am – 4:30 pm

Tuesday: 9 am – 4:30 pm

Wednesday: 9 am – 2 pm

Thursday: 9 am – 4:30 pm

Friday: 9 am – 4:30 pm

Appointments only, no walk-ins.

Outpatient palliative care clinic

Prebys Cancer Center

4044 5th Avenue

San Diego, CA 92103


Clinic Hours

Mon - Fri: 7 am - 5 pm

Infusion Center

Mon - Sat: 7 am - 5 pm

Support groups, services and resources

As leaders in health care, we know what it takes to manage a chronic or serious illness. That’s why we equip our patients with the support and resources necessary to achieve their best possible outcome. From connecting you with support groups and services to empowering you with the latest resources and research, Scripps offers comprehensive care to help you along every step of your journey.

Support services and resources for patients

Scripps offers a variety of patient support services to ensure your physical, psychological and emotional well-being, as well as resources for dealing with the logistical and financial aspects of your care. Our services and resources include:

For the full list of offerings, please visit our patient resources section.

Support groups for patients and family members

In support of our patients, their family members and the community, Scripps hosts a range of free workshops and health and wellness events on a number of topics from heart health to parenting classes, including topics such as:

  • Nutrition
  • Yoga
  • Meditation

Check the current list of support offerings, or contact your social worker or case manager.