What is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is a multidisciplinary approach to specialized medical and nursing care for people with life-limiting illnesses. It focuses on providing relief from the symptoms, pain, physical stress, and mental stress at any stage of illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the person and their family.
Palliative care is provided by a team of physicians, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and other health professionals who work together with the primary care physician and referred specialists and other hospital, hospice staff or care home staff to provide additional support. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided as the main goal of care or along with curative treatment. Although it is an important part of end-of-life care, it is not limited to that stage.
Palliative care can be provided across multiple settings including in hospitals, at home, as part of community palliative care programs, and in skilled care home facilities. Interdisciplinary palliative care teams work with people and their families to clarify goals of care and provide symptom management, psycho-social, and spiritual support.
Palliative care aims to treat or manage pain and other physical symptoms. It will also help with any psychological, social or spiritual needs. Treatment will involve medicines, therapies, and any other support that specialist teams believe will help their patients. It includes caring for people who are nearing the end of life. This is called end of life care.
- Improves quality of life.
- Gives relief from pain and other distressing symptoms.
- Supports life and keeping people as healthy as possible, regarding dying as a normal process.
- Doesn’t quicken or postpone death.
- Combines psychological and spiritual aspects of care.
- Offers a support system to help people live as actively as possible until death.
- Offers a support system to help the family cope during a person’s treatment and in bereavement.
- Uses a team approach to address the needs of the person who is ill and their families.
- Also applies to the earlier stages of illness, alongside other therapies that are aimed at prolonging life.
- Can take place in hospitals, hospices, care homes but also in people’s homes.