Accessing the Community
Palliative care is specialised medical care for people living with a serious illness. This type of care is focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of the illness. It is provided by a specially-trained team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work together with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support.
As opposed to curative care, which is meant to cure a disease, palliative care is meant to make the patient more comfortable. The definition of palliative care is “to make a disease or its symptoms less severe or unpleasant without removing the cause.” Palliative care will lessen or “palliate” the symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Palliative care is based on the needs of the patient, not on the patient’s prognosis. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and it can be provided along with curative treatment.
Palliative care identifies and treats symptoms which may be physical, emotional, spiritual or social. Because palliative care is based on individual needs, the services offered will differ but may include:
- Relief of pain and other symptoms e.g. vomiting, shortness of breath
- Resources such as equipment needed to aid care at home
- Assistance for families to come together to talk about sensitive issues
- Links to other services such as home help and financial support
- Support for people to meet cultural obligations
- Support for emotional, social and spiritual concerns
- Counselling and grief support
- Referrals to respite care services
Palliative care is a family-centred model of care, meaning that family and carers can receive practical and emotional support.
Who is Palliative Care for?
Palliative care is for people of any age who have been told that they have a serious illness that cannot be cured. Palliative care assists people with illnesses such as cancer, motor neuron disease and end-stage kidney or lung disease to manage symptoms and improve quality of life.
For some people, palliative care may be beneficial from the time of diagnosis with a serious life-limiting illness. Palliative care can be given alongside treatments given by other doctors.
Where is Palliative Care Provided?
Palliative care is provided where the person and their family wants, where possible. This
- At home
- In hospital
- In a hospice
- In a residential aged care facility
Many people indicate a preference to live at home and making this possible often depends on several factors, including:
- the nature of the illness and amount of care the person needs
- how much support is available from the person’s family and community
- whether the person has someone at home who can provide physical care and
support for them.
Goals of Palliative Care
Palliative care goals include:
- Improving quality of life for both the patient and the family
- Minimising pain and discomfort
- Alleviating emotional distress, anxiety, or depression
- Assisting with safety, mobility, and equipment
- Spiritual counseling
- Empowering patients and caregivers to make the right decisions
Benefits of Palliative Care
Palliative care provides relief in a variety of ways. For patients and families struggling to cope with a serious diagnosis, palliative care can address depression, anxiety and fear by employing counseling, support groups, family meetings and the like. Physical symptoms such as pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea/vomiting and sleep loss can all be mitigated with palliative approaches.
Palliative care not only improves the quality of life of patients and their families, reducing mental and physical distress and discomfort, but also can help patients live longer. The prolonged survival is thought to be due to improved quality of life, appropriate administration of disease-directed treatments, and early referral to hospice for intensive symptom management and stabilization.
How Does Synergy Vision Approach Palliative Care?
Palliative care begins with a plan uniquely tailored by an interdisciplinary team to meet
the needs of the patient. The team can work with newly diagnosed patients and those
struggling with the after-effects of curative therapies. Some members of the palliative
team may be board certified in hospice and palliative medicine; others range from
chaplains to acupuncturists.
If you or a loved one is living with serious illness, get our Palliative care services now.
Use this discussion and the resulting services as an opportunity to:
- Assess and manage poorly controlled physical, psychological, social, and spiritual
- Understand your illness, its expected trajectory, and treatment options.
- Explore your hopes, worries, goals, and values; cultural or religious beliefs that
impact your care or treatment decisions; treatments you may or may not want;
what quality of life means to you.
- Discuss and document your health care proxy and end of life preferences,
including medical interventions you do or do not want.
A palliative consult with the patient provides timely and specific information that helps
the patient and family understand what palliative medicine brings to the table, and helps
physicians and the rest of the interdisciplinary team provide the most appropriate care.