Palliative care is sometimes thought to be just for end-of-life, but this is not the case. The World Health Organisation defines palliative care as “an approach that improves the quality of life" through "early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual” in other words, palliative care is there to help you carry on with living a quality life.
One of the main focuses of palliative care is to relieve symptoms and distress, and this has an added effect of improving your ability to handle treatment, which can sometimes even mean a better treatment outcome. You can also expect close communication and more control over your care.
Even if you do not make use of the services that palliative care can provide, having a palliative care consultation early on could help you to understand what is on offer and guide your decision-making process. Research has shown that early access to palliative care can result in better care and even improved survival outcomes and some studies even recommend a palliative care consultation at the time of diagnosis.
“My sister's palliative care team were amazing. The nursing team in the last few days of her life were truly amazing in helping her pass peacefully.”
Your palliative care team are there to help you to navigate your way through treatment options and beyond. Engaging with a palliative care team has been shown to give patients a better understanding of treatment, more control over management and therefore a better experience.
Your palliative care team could include doctors and specialists, nurses, social workers, physiotherapists, occupational and speech therapists, psychologists and even your family/personal support network.