When should someone be offered palliative care?

July 4, 2023 Palliative care

When should someone be offered palliative care?

What is palliative care?

The definition of palliative care, for us, is specialised medical care that provides support for people living with a chronic or life-limiting condition. This type of care can relieve the pain, symptoms and stress caused by these serious illnesses.

Palliative style care is often confused with end of life care. These are two different types of care, but they have some similar qualities. Receiving palliative nursing care does not always mean that you will not get better or that you are dying. Although some people receive palliative care as part of their end-of-life care, it can also be provided at any time during a period of illness, alongside other treatments or therapies. It can also form part of your respite care when you are recovering from an illness or operation.

When you are unwell, receiving treatment on top of day-to-day life may become difficult to manage for both you and your loved ones. Your illness may also be terminal, which means you will want to focus on making the most of the time you have left with the people that matter to you. That’s where palliative nursing care comes in.

Who needs palliative care?

Palliative care specialist teams can treat people living with many disease types and chronic illnesses. These include homecare for Cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Dementia, Heart Disease, Kidney Failure and Lung Disease.

When is best to start palliative care?

You can start palliative nursing care at any stage of an illness, even as soon as you receive a diagnosis or begin treatment. You don’t have to wait until you have reached an advanced stage or when you’re in the final months of life. If managing has become difficult for you or those caring for you, seek professional help. You can begin by speaking to your GP or a care provider like Cavendish Homecare.

The earlier you begin palliative care, the better. As well as medical intervention, palliative style care can relieve the anxiety, depression, fatigue, and pain that can set in at the beginning of treatment. Palliative care teams understand the multiple and complex situations that you face and can help support families and loved ones too.

Who provides palliative care?

Because of the wide range of things that palliative style care covers, it can be provided by a few different people and organisations:

Nurses and Doctors

If you receive palliative care in a hospital setting, nurses and doctors will assess your needs and provide things like pain relief and medications. They may also recommend complementary therapies.

Home care nurses

The same care can be provided by a nurse in the comfort of your own home. For some people, they can convalesce better at home. If the palliative nursing care is being provided as part of the end-of-life care, the patient may wish to die at home, therefore home care nurses form an important part of this.

Religious groups and Therapists

Palliative style care covers more than just medical support at times. Therapies and the support of a group that a person believes in or belongs to can also help someone to recover or pass peacefully.


Some organisations specialise in palliative style care and can provide support for patients and their loved ones during a difficult time. Staff may complete day-to-day tasks or offer support services to you or your family.

What symptoms can be managed with palliative care?

Palliative nursing care focuses on the symptoms and stress of the disease and treatment. It treats a wide range of issues including:

Loss of appetite

This is common in people living with a terminal illness. It can be caused by other symptoms of the illness or side effects of medicines or treatment. Your doctor will assess your condition before prescribing any treatment. They may refer you to a dietitian to help you plan your meals and manage your nutrition or prescribe medicine according to what has caused your appetite loss.

Shortness of breath

Breathlessness is a common symptom for patients with advanced cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis and heart failure. Breathlessness should be managed by a multidisciplinary team of health and social care professionals. This can include the patient’s GP, district or specialist nurse, an occupational therapist, physiotherapist and counsellor.


Causes of fatigue includes previous treatments, anaemia, eating problems, pain and other symptoms due to illness. Medical and nursing staff involved in the patient’s care will identify and treat any reversible causes of fatigue if appropriate. This can improve medicines such as steroids to improve appetite and energy levels. Blood transfusions are also helpful in some patients with anaemia.


This is one of the most common problems in patients receiving palliative style care. It can cause extreme suffering and discomfort. A management plan will vary for each patient and may include encouraging the patient to have plenty of fluids and ensure they have access to toilet facilities.


Physical and psychological factors can contribute to nausea and vomiting in patients with a terminal illness. After an asssessment, a GP or specialist nurse can work out a treatment plan with the patient which might include a combination of medicines, non-medical treatments and practical tips.

What are the benefits of palliative care?

The main purpose of this type of care is to enhance the quality of life in people experiencing serious or terminal illnesses and support their families. Some of the benefits can include:

-Symptom and pain management

-Physical and emotional support (this extends to family and carers too)

-Alleviation of any distressing or overwhelming symptoms

-Help to improve the quality of life for both the patient and their family

-Planning for complications or death

How can Cavendish Homecare help?

At Cavendish Homecare we are experts in providing palliative homecare for individuals with terminal illnesses who want to return or remain in their own homes. We understand that at such a stressful and sensitive time, specialist nursing care and trustworthy support can make a huge difference. We work to support the patients, their families, friends, district nurses, palliative teams, and any spiritual needs to support your palliative nursing care. Our highly skilled and compassionate nurses and carers can provide support to clients in London and the home counties, including Kensington and Chelsea, Twickenham, Westminster, Harrow, Camden and Surrey.

If you would like to enquire about our palliative style care services, contact us on, 02030085210 or email us at info@cavendishhomecare.com.

About the Author…

Mairead Liston

Registered Nurse and Founder of Cavendish Homecare

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.

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