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Why and when would you consider offering your patient access to Palliative Care?

Palliative Care is offered in collaboration with the care you already offer your patient, whether you are a GP or specialist. Several recent randomized trials have shown improved patient and family outcomes when Palliative Care is offered early on during the course of a serious illness, as an extra layer of support.

It involves a team approach including Palliative Care trained doctors, nurses, social worker and/or counsellors, allied health professionals and spiritual guides.

Palliative Care improves


Relief of Distressing Symptoms

Patient and
Family Support

Addressing Informational Needs

Future Health

Palliative Care can be offered:

  • at any stage of a serious or life threatening illness
  • to any acute or chronic illness with poor or uncertain outcome
  • alongside curative treatment
  • at home, in a clinic, hospital or in ICU

Illnesses that require Palliative Care input:

  • Advanced or metastatic cancer
  • Chronic heart, lung or kidney failure, unresponsive to medical or surgical treatment
  • Progressive neurological diseases including dementia, MND, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease

Palliative Care Indicator Tool: SPICT

A palliative care indicator tool is useful to guide doctors and other health care professionals to recognise those patients who should be receiving palliative care.

A stepwise Delphi process was conducted to develop a local South African tool, SPICTTM-SA.

General indicators for palliative care align with the original SPICT tool and were unchanged. The next step is to validate this tool in the clinical context. For any questions or comments on this tool, please contact

Hawley - fig 2(2)

Palliative Care offers the following:

  • Complex symptom management using a bio-psycho-social approach
  • Expertise in communication supports
    • Illness understanding and prognostic awareness
    • Goals of care conversations
    • Advance care planning
    • Complex medical decision-making
    • Difficult conversations such as requests for futile care, family conflict, search for miracle cures
    • Conversations about mechanical ventilation, dialysis, artificial hydration and feeding
    • Transition to end-of-life care
  • Emotional, social and spiritual support to patient and family
  • Identifying of resources
  • Coordination of care and navigating the health care system
  • End-of-life care

Struggling to find the words?

“Palliative care offers an extra layer of support”

(CAPC, Centre to Advance Palliative Care, US)

“A car journey is a good metaphor to use. Adding palliative care, means adding things like air-conditioning, seatbelts and airbags to your vehicle for the journey. The goals or destination doesn’t change but the journey is as safe and comfortable as possible. Taking out car insurance means making sure everything is covered should the journey not work out as planned.”

(Bruera and Hui at the MD Anderson Cancer Centre)