Palliative and End of Life Care

Welcome to the palliative and end of life care page. There are a confusing array of terms used to describe this type of care. On this page, we provide a definition of these terms and an explanation of what these services can do to help and how you can access your local services.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is active holistic care of patients with life-limiting and incurable illness. The goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life through the management of pain and other symptoms and the provision of psychological, social and spiritual support.

Palliative care aims to:

  • provide relief from pain and other distressing symptoms;
  • affirm life and regards dying as a normal process;
  • neither to hasten or postpone death;
  • integrate the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care;
  • offer a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death;
  • offer a support system to help the family cope during the patient’s illness and in their own bereavement;
  • use a team approach to address the needs of patients and their families.

Unlike end of life care, palliative care can be appropriate earlier in the course of an illness. Sometimes this is called “early palliative care” or “enhanced supportive care”. Palliative care can be delivered alongside 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.

What is end of life care?

End of life care is an important part of palliative care that focuses on the needs of an individual and their family’s needs in the last year of life. This might include sorting out practical and financial affairs including making a will, considering your preferences for care such as where you would like to be cared for and making a personalised or advanced care plan, and preparing children for the death of a loved one.

What is specialist palliative care?

Everybody will need palliative and end of life care at some time. This is provided by all health and social care professionals such as your GP, district or community nurse, care workers, therapists and hospital doctors, nurses and therapists, as part of their usual role.

Specialist palliative care professionals are experts in palliative care and have specific training and experience in this area. They become involved in managing more complex problems, often at the request of the usual care teams. Specialist palliative care teams provide care in hospices, the community and hospitals.

Your local hospices

Further information on palliative care can be found by following the links on the buttons below.

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