Palliative Care

Resources and advice for patient, family and caregivers.

Palliative care is specialised medical care with a multi-disciplinary approach for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of a serious illness. The goal is to improve the quality of life of both the patient and the family.

You may come across the terms palliative care or end of life care and feel you don’t know much about them. People often find these terms confusing. This page provides a definition of these terms and how this type of treatment can help.

What Is Palliative Care?

If you have been told you may not get better from your illness, you might also have heard about palliative care. Palliative care is for people living with a terminal illness where a cure is no longer possible. It is not just for people diagnosed with terminal cancer but any terminal condition. It’s also for people who have a complex illness and need their symptoms controlled. Although these people usually have an advanced and progressive condition, this is not always the case.

Palliative care aims to treat or manage pain and other physical symptoms. It will also help with any psychological, social or spiritual needs. Treatment will involve medicines, therapies and any other support that specialist teams believe will help their patients. It includes caring for people who are nearing the end of life. This is called end-of-life care.

The goal is to help you and everyone affected by your diagnosis to achieve the best quality of life. You might receive palliative care alongside particular treatments, therapies and medicines, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Palliative care aims to:

  • Improve quality of life
  • Give relief from pain and other distressing symptoms
  • Support life and keep people as healthy as possible
  • Help people come to terms with dying
  • Combine psychological and spiritual aspects of care
  • Offer a support system to help people live as actively as possible until death
  • Offer a support system to help the family cope during a person’s treatment and in bereavement
  • Palliative care does not quicken or postpone death. It also applies to the earlier stages of illness, alongside other therapies that are aimed at prolonging life. Like with any other illness, palliative care uses a team approach to address the needs of the person who is ill and their families.
  • It can take place in hospitals, hospices but also in people’s homes.

More information on how we can help you or a loved one living with a terminal illness.

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