Explaining Palliative Care
What is Palliative Care ?
Palliative Care is an approach incorporated into the overall care people receive when they are living with an illness that cannot be cured, such as dementia, heart failure, motor neurone disease, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, renal failure or respiratory failure. It aims to empower and support people to live as well as possible for as long as possible.
Palliative care focuses on achieving the best quality of life for the person and those important to them through the prevention and relief of pain and other distressing symptoms as well as providing emotional, social and spiritual support.
It may be provided any time after the diagnosis and could be required for weeks, months or years. Some people may receive palliative care earlier in the course of their illness. In addition, palliative care can be provided alongside other ongoing treatments, if appropriate.
Palliative care also supports people in the last stages of their illness by providing compassionate, personalized care and treatment so that the person has the best quality of life for whatever time is left. Also, it endeavors to ensure that when the time comes, the person receives the care they require to die with dignity and in comfort.
Palliative Care can be provided in different care settings including home, hospitals, care homes or hospices.
It involves all health and social care staff working together to achieve the best possible quality of life for the person and their families / carers, with the agreement of the person, where possible. The staff who provide palliative care fall into two main groups – general palliative care and specialist palliative care. Many people and those important to them have their needs met by generalist palliative care services. Specialist palliative care services are available to support the generalist services when more complex or specialised needs arise. A person and their family may require input from both generalist and specialist palliative care services depending on their needs.
General Palliative Care
General palliative care is delivered by all health and social care staff who provide day-to-day care and support to people with a palliative care condition including their family/carers. It involves staff across various multidisciplinary Teams/services and may include: GPs; community nurses; hospital doctors and nurses; healthcare workers; physiotherapists; dietitians; occupational therapists; pharmacists; speech and language therapists; dentists; social workers and Marie Curie Nurses. These staff will be able to assess and manage the person’s palliative care needs. General palliative care staff will seek advice from and/or refer a person to specialist palliative care services if complex palliative care needs arise.
Specialist Palliative Care
Some people, who have more specialised or complex needs, may require care from specialist health and social care staff who have additional training and expertise in palliative care. This care may be directly provided for the person and those important to them or through the provision of information and guidance to the other staff already caring for the person.