Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of people facing the problems associated with life-limiting illness and supports their families. The palliative care approach focuses on the prevention and relief of suffering by means of assessing and treating pain and other physical, psychosocial or spiritual problems.
Who Is Palliative Care For?
Palliative care is for anyone with a life-limiting condition. This means a condition, illness or disease which is progressive and cannot be cured. Cancer patients often have palliative care, but it can also be given to people with other illnesses, for example dementia or lung disease.
When Is Palliative Care Given?
Some people think that palliative care is only given when you have finished all other treatment. But the palliative care team are experts in managing pain and controlling symptoms, so you may be given palliative care at any stage to manage symptoms and complications from your illness.
Having the palliative care team involved early may mean symptoms will be better controlled and potential problems kept in check. It also means you will have emotional support earlier on in your illness.
In later stages, palliative care can also help people to prepare for death. This is called end-of-life care.
Where Is Palliative Care Given?
Depending on what kind of palliative care you are having, you may be given palliative care:
- In hospital, by the specialist palliative care team
- At home by specialist palliative nurses who work with your family doctor, the specialist palliative care team, the public health nurse and your family
- In a community hospital or nursing home by specialist palliative nurses who work with your family doctor and/or a specialist palliative care team