Palliative care is the care of any patient with advanced, incurable disease. It involves the control of symptoms such as pain and aims to improve quality of life for both patients and their families.
We give specialist information to people facing life-threatening illness and understand that emotional, spiritual, family and financial worries may be just as important to you as physical problems.
We work closely with doctors, nurses and other health professionals to support you, your family and carers. We see patients on the ward or in the hospital’s specialist symptom control outpatient clinic.
Supportive care is an “umbrella” term for all services which helps the patient and their family to cope with their condition and treatment of it – from pre-diagnosis, through the process of diagnosis and treatment, to cure, continuing illness or death and into bereavement. It helps the patient to maximise the benefits of treatment and to live as well as possible with the effects of the disease. It is given equal priority alongside diagnosis and treatment.
Supportive care should be fully integrated with diagnosis and treatment and involves:
- Self help and support
- User involvement
- Information giving
- Psychological support
- Symptom control
- Social support
- Complementary therapies
- Spiritual support
- End of life and bereavement care
Palliative care is part of supportive care. It embraces many elements of supportive care and has been defined by NICE as follows:-
“Palliative care is the active holistic care of patients with advanced progressive illness. Management of pain and other symptoms and provision of psychological, social and spiritual support is paramount. The goal of palliative care is achievement of the best quality of life for patients and their families. Many aspects of palliative care are also applicable earlier in the course of the illness in conjunction with other treatments.”
Palliative care aims to:
- Affirm life and regard dying as a normal process.
- Provide relief from pain and other distressing symptoms.
- Integrate the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care.
- Offer a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death.
- Offer a support system to help the family cope during the patient’s illness and in their own bereavement.
End of life care
End of life care helps the supportive and palliative care needs of both patient and family to be identified and met throughout the last phase of life and into bereavement. It is underpinned by:
- Anticipation and management of deterioration in the patient’s stage of health and well-being.
- Advance care planning in accordance with patient preferences.
- Patient choice about place of care and death.
- Effective co-ordination of care across all teams and providers of care (in statutory, voluntary and independent sectors) who are involved in the care of patient and family.
Care of the dying
Care of the dying is the care of the patient and family in the last hours and days of life. It incorporates four key domains of care, physical, psychological, social and spiritual and supports the family at that time and into bereavement.