Palliative Care involves care and support for a person living with a serious health condition or a life-limiting illness such as cancer or heart failure. This includes managing physical symptoms such as pain, helping with social care needs and offering psychological, emotional and spiritual support.
The aim of palliative care is to increase your quality of life and boost your well-being as much as possible. You can receive palliative care at any time during your illness, and some people may receive this type of care for many years alongside treatment and therapies.
Who provides palliative care?
Many healthcare professionals provide palliative care as part of their jobs. An example is the care you get from your GP or community nurses.
Some people need additional specialist palliative care. This may be provided by consultants trained in palliative medicine, specialist palliative care nurses or specialist occupational therapists or physiotherapists.
Palliative care teams are made up of different healthcare professionals and can co-ordinate the care of people with an incurable illness. As specialists, they also advise other professionals on palliative care.
Palliative care services may be provided by the NHS, your local council or a charity.
What is the difference between End-of-Life Care and Palliative Care?
End-of-life care includes palliative care. If you have an illness that can’t be cured, palliative care makes you as comfortable as possible, by managing your pain and other distressing symptoms. It also involves psychological, social and spiritual support for you and your family or carers. This is called a holistic approach because it deals with you as a “whole” person.
Palliative care isn’t just for the end of life. You may receive palliative care earlier in your illness while you are still receiving other therapies to treat your condition.