What’s Involved in Palliative Care?
For people who are helping to look after a loved one with a life-limiting illness the very term ‘palliative care’ can strike panic into the heart, and this is usually because most of us have no idea of what palliative care is exactly.
So little is known or understood about end-of-life care so it may help you to know what’s involved.
How prevalent is the need for palliative care?
According to the Marie Curie Foundation it is recognized that around 75-80% of those with a terminal illness will benefit from palliative care across all parts of the UK and that the need for palliative care is increasing in line with the average longer lifespan bringing increased prevalence of serious health conditions.
What is palliative care and who provides it?
Palliative or end-of-life care provides support in various ways to those in the last weeks, months, or years of their life and is there to help them live as comfortably and as normally as possible for as long as possible. Depending on the type of illness and the circumstances of the patient it will be given by doctors and nurses, or a dedicated palliative care team. These can include specialist nurses, physio or occupational therapists or consultants trained in palliative medicine.
If someone you love is approaching the end of their life or they needs extra care to manage their illness the first point of call to get palliative care in place is the GP or ask your health care professional to arrange this for you. If your loved one is receiving care in their own home from a live in carer, they can kick-start the process.
In some cases, a large part of this type of care is about managing pain whereby medical professionals will assess the type and level of pain in order to provide the appropriate medication and dosage. But it’s not only about pain; symptoms like sickness, constipation, and loss of appetite, which can be debilitating to those with a terminal illness, can also be managed.
Nowadays care teams understand that caring for someone at the end of life is not just about managing the physical symptoms of their illness but that a more holistic approach is better and to this end, palliative live in care provides spiritual, psychological, and social support for the patient and for their family and friends who also may be suffering distress.
When to call at the end of life care
There is no set time or day when palliative care can start. In short, it begins as soon as it is needed and will last for as long as it is needed. In some cases, palliative care is given when they are only a few days away from dying, in others it could be months. Palliative care is considered for those whose death is expected shortly because of a sudden crisis or unexpected turn in their illness as well as those who are living long term with incurable illnesses such as cancer, dementia, or motor neuron disease.
What`s involved in palliative care: plan ahead
If you or your loved one are likely to need palliative care at any point then plan ahead to put a care package in place and get financial and legal affairs in order well in advance.