The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines it as “the active total care of patients whose disease is not responsive to curative treatment. Control of pain, other symptoms, and psychological, social and spiritual problems, is paramount. The goal of palliative care is the achievement of the best quality of life for patients and their families.”
Palliative care affirms life, regards dying as a normal process and is a holistic approach that incorporates a whole variety of care aspects. It offers physical, emotional and practical support and can be offered at anytime after a terminal diagnosis. It works towards improving the quality of life of the person and their families. The person is at the end of their life and the key aim is to keep them as comfortable as possible for their remaining days. It can seem like a scary process, but essentially is a support system to help the person and their loved ones cope.
It will involve a range of services delivered by a range of professionals such as support workers, nurses, physicians and many more.
There are many attitudes and principles required for successful palliative care. It is not simply the process someone would go through on their own in hospital. It is the integrated and overall care a person and their family would receive.
Some key principles of palliative care include:
Sensitivity, empathy and compassion towards the person and concern for all aspects of a person’s suffering, not just the medical issues is key. It is important to realise that every individual is unique and their needs are all different even though they may have the same condition. This can influence when planning the needs of care for the individual.
Physical pain is an unfortunate part of many health conditions at the end-of-life stage. Although it is a common symptom, not everyone receiving palliative care support will experience pain. As pain is multidimensional, there is no one way of treating it. Pain relief should therefore be something that includes the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of suffering. Ongoing assessment and management is pain is essential for individuals approaching end of life.
Palliative care should deliver the best possible medical, nursing and allied health care that is available and appropriate. An overall plan allows the Nurse and Carers to provide consistent medical care which can lessen any medical emergencies if they were to happen. Having an overall plan also reduces the distress for the individual and family as they would be made clear of the patients wishes of how to deal with unexpected instances.
This is key when discussing all processes of palliative care with the individual and their families. Good communication between all the professionals involved in one’s care is essential and is fundamental to many aspects of palliative care. This communication should also continue through to the individual and their families, informing them along the way. Having clear lines of communication would also mean that that the individual’s end of life wishes are communicated to their families and they are met when the time comes.
Palliative care, whether at home or in a hospital, often succeeds or fails depending on the care and support offered to the family members providing care. Families should be prepared for the inevitability of death and know what to expect. Therfore, ensuring that appropriate support is available is invaluable.
Where end of life home care is given often depend on several factors such as the nature of the illness, amount of care and support needed and whether their home would physically be able to accommodate the care.
Palliative care can be provided where the person and their family want, where possible. This may include:
At Cavendish Homecare, our palliative homecare services are grounded in the principles of palliative care. This approach focuses on providing compassionate care and support to individuals with serious illnesses, with an emphasis on improving quality of life and managing symptoms. Some key principles of palliative care include effective communication, holistic care, and a team-based approach to care. Our team of skilled professionals is committed to upholding these principles and providing personalised care to meet the unique needs of each individual and their family.
Mairead Liston, a dedicated figure in healthcare, began her journey as a nurse and midwife, laying the foundation for a remarkable career. Driven by passion and expertise, Mairead established a successful nursing agency, serving as a crucial staffing resource for major hospitals in London and the UK.
In 2010, Mairead founded Cavendish Homecare with a mission to provide exceptional care in the comfort of people’s homes. Mairead’s areas of expertise encompass palliative and end of life care, post-operative care, and cancer care, ensuring the delivery of the highest quality of care to her clients.
Her transformative impact is exemplified through prestigious awards, including the ‘Lifetime Achievement’ award and the Chief Nursing Officer in Adult Social Care Silver award, recognising her dedicated service to social care.
By becoming a member of the Guild of Freemen of the City of London, Mairead not only emphasises her active support for both current and future nurses but also plays a vital role in contributing to the ongoing evolution of the nursing profession.