What is Palliative Care and Why is It Needed?

No-one wants to think about becoming ill or being faced with the harsh reality of mortality. However, if you have been told that you may not get better then you might hear the term Palliative Care mentioned. But what is it?

Palliative care is generally for people living with a terminal illness where a cure is no longer possible. It is also for people with a complex illness who need their symptoms carefully controlled – these people often have an advanced progressive condition, but this isn’t always the case. In a way, Palliative care is also for the family members of the person who is suffering with the illness, and it can be a much-needed support.

Palliative care aims to treat/manage pain as well as other symptoms but will also help incredibly with any psychological, social and of course spiritual needs. Treatment can involve many different things from medicines to therapies depending what the specialists believe will help their patients. This can also include caring for someone near the end of their life – this is called end of life care.

The main purpose of Palliative care is to help the patient and everyone effected by their diagnosis to achieve the best possible quality of life and might be received alongside other therapies or treatments such as chemotherapy.

Palliative Care can;

  • Improve a person’s quality of life during complex or terminal illness
  • Provide relief from pain and other symptoms that cause distress or upset
  • Support life and aid in keeping people as healthy as possible
  • Regard dying as a normal part of life and help people to prepare
  • Does neither quicken or postpone death
  • Provide spiritual aspects of care
  • Offer a support system to help people live as happily as possible until death
  • Offer support to loved ones and help them to cope during treatment and potential bereavement.

Palliative Care doesn’t need to start towards the end of someone’s illness or treatment but can in fact begin in the earlier stages of illness, alongside other therapies that are aimed at prolonging life.

It can take place in hospitals, hospices or in people’s own homes and can be given via General care from people such as your GP and community nurses etc as well as via Specialist Care from experts in Palliative Care and it’s likely that both types will be needed as a person’s needs change.

If you think that you or someone you care about may need Palliative Care, please do get in touch and I’d be happy to talk to you about yours or their needs.