- Includes, prevention, early identification, comprehensive assessment, and management of physical issues, including pain and other distressing symptoms, psychological distress, spiritual distress, and social needs. Whenever possible, these interventions must be evidence based.
- Provides support to help patients live as fully as possible until death by facilitating effective communication, helping them and their families determine goals of care
- Is applicable throughout the course of an illness, according to the patient’s needs.
- Is provided in conjunction with disease modifying therapies whenever needed.
- May positively influence the course of illness.
- Intends neither to hasten nor postpone death, affirms life, and recognizes dying as a natural process.
- Provides support to the family and the caregivers during the patient’s illness, and in their own bereavement.
- Is delivered recognizing and respecting the cultural values and beliefs of the patient and the family.
- Is applicable throughout all health care settings (place of residence and institutions) and in all levels (primary to tertiary).
- Can be provided by professionals with basic palliative care training.
- Requires specialist palliative care with a multiprofessional team for referral of complex cases.
5 stages of palliative care
There are five stages of palliative care. Understanding these may help you decide when might be the right time to start the process for you.
This is where the initial plan is created; it should be flexible to provide the right care as your illness evolves. Healthcare professionals, you and your family, are often involved in making this plan.
Medical social workers, interdisciplinary teams and a chaplain provide emotional and spiritual care for you and your family.
Nurses and physicians work together at this point of the care plan to ensure you maintain as much independence as possible. It may be necessary at this stage to install home health aides and accept assistance from nursing carers with daily activities that you are beginning to struggle with.
This stage involves arranging inpatient care at a hospital or hospice if wanted. If you don’t want this, but still require more help from medical professionals than previously, live in care can be arranged so that you always get the support you need, without moving out of your comfort zone. This stage can also encompass end of life care.
This involves bereavement support for your family and friends and is usually utilised for a year.