End of Life and Palliative Care.

By Sr. Sonja van der Dussen

What are End of Life and Palliative Care?

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End of Life and Palliative Care aim to help those with life-limiting or life-threatening illnesses. The focus of this type of care is managing symptoms and providing comfort and assistance. This includes help with emotional and mental health, spiritual and social needs. End of Life and Palliative Care provide practical help with daily tasks. The goal is to improve quality of life, including that of family, friends and carers. End of Life and Palliative Care are based on actual needs and not on diagnosis.

Who benefits from End of Life and Palliative Care?

Anyone with a life-limiting or life-threatening illness is eligible for End of Life and Palliative Care. Chronic life-limiting illnesses include, but are not limited to:

  • Cancer
  • Heart and lung diseases
  • Motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis
  • Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia
  • Renal disease
  • Stroke and other neurological conditions
  • Other life-limiting illnesses

Who delivers End of Life and Palliative Care?

End of Life Care may include listening and talking with individuals after receiving news about the possibility of the end of their lives, being empathetic to their concerns and needs, and referrals to more specialised support or care if required.

A range of people and services may be involved in a care programme, as the condition progresses, the team providing care may change.

Palliative Careis provided by specialist Palliative Care staff who are trained with specific skills and knowledge to help patients, their family and the carers. Palliative Care staff have specialist expertise in symptom management, emotional, spiritual, practical and cultural care.

How can End of Life and Palliative Care help?

End of Life and Palliative Care focus on improving quality of life by managing symptoms and providing emotional, spiritual and practical support.

End of Life and Palliative Care are best commenced early in the disease process to help maintain the best quality of life, according to the patient’s wishes, for as long as possible.

Person-centred Palliative Care

Person-centred Care means that:

  • The patient is the centre of planning and decision-making.
  • Individual, cultural and religious needs are considered when care is planned.

Patients are treated in the way they want to be treated – personal preferences and values are recognised and respected.