Palliative care is the approach taken to support someone during a terminal illness. This care can be offered at any time in the course of the illness and ideally should begin at the point of diagnosis.
It may not be offered automatically at diagnosis, but you can ask to be referred by your GP. If you do this as early as possible, it ensures you gain access to a variety of services to help manage the pathway of care more effectively.
Palliative care encompasses:
- the control of symptoms
- psychological and spiritual aspects of care
- a support system to enable people to live as actively as possible
- help with decision making
- assistance to help the family cope.
The professionals involved will probably include many of your existing health team:
- consultant in palliative care
- specialist nurse
- district nurse
- speech and language therapist (SaLT)
- social worker
- occupational therapist (OT)
- complementary therapist
Palliative care is provided in a variety of settings, such as your home, residential or nursing care, a hospice, hospital or day therapy.
It is important to remember that hospice services are not necessarily focused simply on the end stages of an illness. Hospices consider a person's emotional, spiritual and psychological needs as well as physical, which they can do from the point of diagnosis. The earlier this relationship begins, the more support you can be given. If your local hospice has built a comprehensive picture of your individual needs, you are likely to have shorter stays should you require any hospital treatment.
You may find it useful to refer to our page on Work and benefits.
When you feel ready you may wish to read the information listed for End of life care.