Palliative care is care provided for a person with an active, progressive, advanced disease, who has little or no prospect of cure, and for whom the primary treatment goal is quality of life.
Dying is an integral and inevitable part of life, and quality palliative care helps to enable people to die with dignity and in a setting of their choosing.
People’s needs vary widely as death approaches, but commonly include the need to understand what is happening, resolve issues with family and friends, achieve a sense of completion emotionally and
spiritually, and come to terms with significant life changes. Palliative care can support this process by relieving pain and other symptoms, addressing practical and financial problems, and providing appropriate psychological, social and spiritual support.
Palliative care is interdisciplinary care, delivered by coordinated medical, nursing, allied health and social services and integrating the physical, psychological, social and spiritual aspects of care. It recognises the patient and family as the unit of care, and respects the right of each patient to make informed choices about the care they receive.
Palliative Care offers, through a mixture of specialist and primary care providers, as well as community partnerships, a support system to help people live as actively and well as possible until death.
Palliative care also plays an important role in helping the family cope during the patient’s illness and in their own bereavement.
The World Health Organisation provides the following guidance:
“Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing
the problem 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.
• 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
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