- Is a multiprofessional approach to health care.
- Provides relief for patients from pain and other distressing symptoms.
- Integrates psychological and spiritual care for patients, so that they may come to terms with their own death as fully and constructively as they can.
- Offers a support system to help the patients live as actively and creatively as possible until death.
- Helps the family cope during the patient’s illness and in bereavement.
- Affirms life and regards death as a normal process; it seeks neither to hasten nor to postpone death.
“Palliative care is the active total care of patients whose disease is not responsive to curative treatment. Control of pain, of other symptoms, and of psychological, social and spiritual problems is paramount.”
For the dying patient, optimal palliative care addresses the traditional concerns of the hospice movement. Comfort for the patient and preparation of both the patient and family for the inevitability of dying are often the overriding challenges in this setting. This preparation may have to address a broad range of psychological, social, family concerns.
The Work Of Palliative Care
Some elements of palliative care may be needed early, a time when apprehension and uncertainty can cause much suffering. When curative treatment is no longer possible, the skills and services of palliative care professionals are made available to help a terminally ill person live as fully as possible, treasuring the moment of each day, and knowing that the pain and other symptoms of advanced disease can be relieved.
Palliative Care – Nutrition
Many people with advanced cancer and other illnesses feel less hungry and lose weight. It can be very hard to watch a loved one fade away and to realize that further treatment is not possible in someone so frail. It helps to understand that people at the end of their illness respond differently to food and fluids than do healthy people. A small bite or sip of fluid may be enough to relieve the hunger and thirst in a person living with a terminal illness.
There are many reasons why there is loss of appetite. Symptoms like pain, nausea, constipation and shortness of breath take up a lot of energy and may take away the desire to eat and drink. The illness may lead to a blocked bowel or malabsorption (when the body can’t get enough nutrients from food).
Palliative care service includes:
- Hospital Consultation
Palliative care physicians and nurses provide consultation and assessment of individual patients in hospital for pain and symptom control. Assistance with discharge planning to the home setting is provided when appropriate.
- Home Care
The palliative care in cooperation with the family physician provide assistance and support for patients in the comfort of their own homes.
- Educational Resource
The service acts as a resource to hospitals, community agencies and the general public. Handouts on different diseases is made available.
During the illness, patients, families and caregivers may identify the need for palliative care and request a referral. Consultation with the family physician confirms the referral.
- Pain and symptom management.
- Ongoing emotional and social support during the illness for patients and families.
- Assistance with the coordination of community and hospital resources to meet the needs of patients.