What is palliative care?
The World Health Organisation’s palliative care definition is: “An approach that improves the quality of life of individuals and their families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual needs.”
Palliative care is delivered by a multi-disciplinary team of professionals that can include specialist doctors, nurses, GPs, allied health professionals, grief counsellors and pastoral care workers. Delivered in the patient’s home or in hospital, aged-care or hospice settings, the patient takes on a key role in deciding and managing their care.
Communication is vital and the palliative care team is committed to ensuring the patient and their family are knowledgeable about their care so they can make well-informed choices and get the most out of every day.
Palliative care, which embraces a whole-person approach, is open to people of all ages and at all stages of their life-threatening illness. It covers pain and symptom control, keeping the patient as pain-free and comfortable as possible, and also provides a wide range of emotional support that encompasses not just the client but their family and carers too.
Many people receive palliative care in the comfort and familiarity of their own homes, which helps to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Specialist palliative care is available for people who experience complex problems during the progression of their life-threatening illness.
Specialist palliative care:
- Involves referral to a specialist Palliative Care team.
- Involves assessing and treating complex systems.
- Involves providing information and advice on complex issues such as ethical dilemmas, family issues, psychological or existential distress.
- Does not replace a palliative approach but augments it with focused intermittent input as required.
What is hospice care?
Hospice care is a specific type of palliative care for people who are in the final stages of a terminal illness. It centres on managing and maintaining the best quality of life for patients and can be provided in a range of environments including the patient’s home.
Contact the consortium for more information.