The World Health Organisation defines palliative care as “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".
1. Provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms.
2. Affirms life and regards dying as a normal process.
3. Intends neither to hasten or postpone death.
4. Integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care.
5. Offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death.
6. Offers a support system to help the family cope during the patients illness and in their own bereavement.
7. Uses a team approach to address the needs of patients and their families, including bereavement counselling, if indicated.
8. Will enhance quality of life, and may also positively influence the course of illness.
9. 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.
Palliative Care Australia states that a palliative approach is used by primary care services and practitioners to improve quality of life for individuals with a life limiting illness, their caregiver/s and family. The palliative approach incorporates a concern for the holistic needs of patients and caregiver/s that is reflected in assessment and in the primary treatment of pain and in the provision of physical, psychological, social and spiritual care.
Application of the palliative approach to the care of an individual is not delayed until the end stages of their illness. Instead, it provides a focus on active comfort-focussed care and a positive approach to reducing suffering and promoting understanding of loss and bereavement in the wider community. Underlying the philosophy of a palliative approach is the view that death, dying and bereavement are all an integral part of life.
Palliative care is delivered in different ways and for varying amounts of time. It is not only for people with cancer.You can ask your doctor to refer you to palliative care at any stage of your illness and especially if you no longer wish to have curative treatment or if your treatment is not adequately controlling your symptoms. Generally speaking, you must have been diagnosed with a serious illness that is progressing.