Palliative care involves multiple specialties in medicine and a well-coordinated approach
focused on providing the best possible quality of life (QOL) for patients with serious
and/or life-threatening conditions, as well as their families, through prevention and relief
A comprehensive plan for palliative support includes the following:
- Management of symptoms.
- Establishing a support and care strategy that is in line with the patient’s values and preferences.
- Ensuring effective and timely communication between the patient and everyone involved in his/her care.
- Setting up efficient coordination among different aspects of care.
- Providing practical, psychosocial, and spiritual support to the patient and his/her family.
Palliative care is not limited to end-of-life care, and requires a team approach; it is also designed to provide support through the various stages of disease – with a comprehensive program that includes early identification, proper assessment, to treatments that may cure or prolong life. Palliative care is also concerned with providing support to the patient’s family during their bereavement period.
According to the World Health Organization, “Palliative care is explicitly recognised under the human right to health. It should be provided through person-centred and integrated health services that pay special attention to the specific needs and preferences of individuals.”
How important is palliative care?
Palliative care should be considered as early in the stage of an illness as possible to maximize effectiveness. Timely access to palliative care ensures greater improvement to a patient’s quality of life, reduces risks for severe complications, and lessens the need for hospitalization and certain health-care services.
Because palliative care takes a holistic and team approach, all of the patient’s needs are addressed in a way that makes it possible for him/her to live a life as close to normal as possible, while still possible. For those whose condition is terminal, palliative care helps ease their suffering, as well as that of their families.
Who needs palliative care?
- Majority of adults that have chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes, and AIDS.
- Patients from different age groups that suffer from kidney failure, chronic liver disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, neurological disease, dementia, congenital anomalies, and drug-resistant tuberculosis.
- Patients that suffer from chronic, moderate to severe pain which is usually associated with advanced progressive conditions.
- Patients that suffer from other distressing symptoms that are severely limiting, such as breathlessness/difficulty breathing, loss of bowel control, and other physical disabilities.
- Patients of any age and at any stage of an illness, whether their condition is curable, chronic, or terminal.
Ideally, palliative care should be integrated into primary health care, as the two involves various medical specialties. If you or a loved one is suffering from any illness, consult a HOMA primary care physician and find out more about the need for palliative care and its advantages.