Does Palliative Care Mean End Of Life?

28 May 2022 | Uncategorised

Often, when people hear the words ‘palliative care’, they fear it means nothing more can be done and they are going to die soon. While palliative care can be a part of end of life care, it certainly doesn’t mean there is no hope. It is this fear and lack of understanding that prevents people from accessing palliative services early, if at all.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care helps to maintain a good quality of life for people with a life-limiting illness (an incurable illness that will shorten a person’s life, although they may still live an active and fulfilling life for many years after diagnosis). Palliative care isn’t about dying. It’s about living life in a meaningful way within the limits of the illness.

There are five main areas where care and support options can be tailored to meet individual needs. These include.

  • Physical needs – such as relief of physical symptoms and pain, home modifications to make life easier, and arranging respite care.
  • Emotional needs – working through the emotions from the diagnosis or prognosis, planning for the future, helping your loved ones cope.
  • Cultural needs – ensuring care is culturally sensitive and appropriate. 
  • Social needs – helping you to achieve your goals, helping with day-to-day needs, setting up a support network, and advising on financial issues.
  • Spiritual needs –helping you find meaning, purpose and value in life, ensuring your spiritual or religious needs are met.

The benefits of palliative care

The goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of life. This includes:

  • Pain management – allowing easier day-to-day living.
  • Reduced depression.
  • Longer life expectancy – possibly linked to reduced depression.
  • Physical and emotional support for family and carers.
  • Support in decision-making.
  • Planning for complications or death.

When to use palliative care

This depends on your illness and needs. Some people may use palliative care for years, some only for a few weeks or months. For example, you might use palliative care while undergoing cancer treatment. If the cancer improves, you can step back from palliative care and return to it in the future if needed. 

There is certainly no need to wait until end of life care in order to access palliative care. Research shows that palliative care early on improves the quality of life for people with cancer.

Who provides palliative care

Palliative care is made up of a team of people from different specialities. These include the following to name a few:

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Pharmacists
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Counsellors
  • Dietician
  • Spiritual or religious leader
  • Caregivers

Depending on what services are available where you live, you can have palliative care at home, hospital, a care home, hospice or a specialist palliative care unit.

You can find more information about palliative care here.

Need extra support at home?

If you need extra support at home during this difficult time, Eximius can help. We have a range of support packages to help you live as comfortably as possible. Contact us to find out more.