What Is Palliative Care?

So you have heard this term allot and here you are sitting and wondering what exactly it is? Well let me tell you a little about what it is and what it is for.

When you or a family member becomes terminally or seriously ill, there is always the concern of becoming a burden on those closest to you. Serious illnesses can cause physical symptoms, such as pain, nausea or fatigue. You may also have psychological symptoms like depression or anxiety.

Basically in a nut shell, Palliative Care is specialized care, catered to individual needs, focused on the reduction of pain and symptoms, while making and keeping the patient as comfortable as possible, while at the same time supporting and guiding those closest to the patient in all aspects that require their guidance, and all this from the comfort of your own home or the hospital if needed.

They work hand in hand with your doctors and family to make sure that everything that is needing to be done is done.

Palliative care is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an approach that improves the quality of life of patients 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, psycho-social and spiritual (WHO, 2003).

The WHO definition of Palliative Care (2009) states that palliative care:

  • provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms
  • affirms life and regards dying as a normal process
  • intends neither to hasten or postpone death
  • integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care
  • offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death
  • offers a support system to help the family cope during the patients illness and in their own bereavement
  • uses a team approach to address the needs of patients and their families, including bereavement counselling, if indicated
  • will enhance quality of life, and may also positively influence the course of illness is applicable early in the course of illness, in conjunction with other therapies that are intended to prolong life, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, and includes those investigations needed to better understand and manage distressing clinical complications.

So if you or a loved one requires the specialized care of a Palliative Team, please go to our Directory to find the team closest to you.