Understanding palliative and end-of-life care

01 April 2019

Death and dying are difficult and emotive subjects for many people, but we know from the huge volume of enquires we get about palliative and end-of-life care that these are areas of support that so many families are needing to plan for or implement imminently.

To help demystify what care and support towards the end of a person’s life involves, we are planning a series of blogs to help inform you during what is often a very distressing time. To begin, we want to shine a light on some of the terminology that’s used and what good palliative and end-of-life care and support looks like.

 

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is treatment, care and support for a person with an illness that can’t be cured and that they are likely to die from. It’s given to manage physical symptoms, like pain, and to make the person feel as comfortable as possible, alongside supporting the person’s social, emotional, psychological and spiritual needs and wishes. The aim of palliative care is for the person to have a good quality of life, enabling them to maximise their health and abilities for as long as possible. Palliative care varies in timeframes – some people receive palliative care for years.

 

What is end-of-life care?

End-of-life care is part of palliative care and is for people who are thought to be in the last year of their life, although this can be difficult to predict and in practice end-of-life care may only begin in the last weeks or days of the person’s life. End-of-life care should include helping a person to be comfortable, reassured and retain their dignity, and involves managing a person’s physical symptoms as well as their emotional wellbeing.

Ideally, end-of-life care should be planned in advance and involve the person if they are able to participate in the planning process.

 

What should good palliative and end-of-life care look like?

  • The person should have choice and control about their care – this might include where the person wants to receive care and where they want to die
  • The person should feel listened to about their preferences and wishes
  • A plan should be in place that fully reflects everything the person wants, and that gives everyone involved in the person’s care clear direction to avoid doing anything that goes against what the person wants – for example, the person may not want to go to hospital when their condition worsens
  • The person’s comfort should be forefront in everyone’s mind, ensuring symptoms like pain are minimised
  • The person should have their spiritual needs and wishes about faith supported
  • The person’s family and friends should be as involved as the person wants them to be and they want to be. Everyone needs to feel as comfortable as possible
  • Care and support should take a multidisciplinary approach, involving health care professionals including palliative/end-of-life specialists as needed
  • The person should have their wishes and plans for their funeral recorded.

 

Our live-in care workers are specifically trained in providing palliative and end-of-life care and support that is dignified, keeps the person comfortable, keeps you informed and supports your knowledge of what is happening with your family member, and gives you the privacy and space to spend precious time with your loved one knowing that other aspects of daily living are being taken care of.

 

We are mindful that when providing all types of care and support, but specifically palliative and end-of-life care, that supporting the person’s family and friends is just as important as the care of the person. By bringing our care workers into your life at this very sensitive time for your family, we appreciate that we are in a privileged position and will do all we can to help everyone cope.

 

You can find out more about our palliative and end-of-life care on our website, or please get in touch with our friendly team on 0800 086 8686 or email care@promedica24.co.uk to find out more about how we can support your family.

Further reading related to palliative and end-of-life care:

Dying Matters

NHS

Marie Curie

Macmillan


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