Whilst we are all aware that we will not live forever for many of us, the thought of talking about death is a topic we avoid.
Modern medicine strives to maximise the chances of curing individuals, however despite all efforts this cannot always be the case. When an individual requires palliative care, this can affect their quality of life and that of those around them.
Palliative care is defined by the World Health Organisation as an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.
Evidence shows that encompassing a support program into the overall palliative care plan can assist patients, families and carers cope. Including a comprehensive program, that encompasses physiological and psychological aspects can enhance the sense of preparedness, provide effective communication and support. 1
There are many elements to palliative care, including pain and symptom management, carer support, and financial and legal discussions. 2
Carers and family members are central in providing care for patients, particularly outpatients; it is essential they are prepared with the knowledge and the ability to handle the caregiver role, and are provided with information and psychosocial support. Service providers can also assist carers or families by helping organise income support, bereavement support, or equipment. 3
Engaging in a comprehensive care plan is not just for care provided in the final stages of life, but will help individuals to live well with a terminal illness. It is important to tailor a plan to the needs of the individuals and families and at times can be of benefit at the initial diagnosis of a life-limiting condition, or be useful on and off through various stages.
SolarisCare offers a range of free services to assist with supporting cancer patients and their carers during palliative care such as counselling, complementary therapies and education programs.
For further information on palliative care, please speak to your health care providers. Below are some website that can provide further details:
- Palliative Care WA
- Palliative Care Australia National Palliative Care Service Directory
- Silver Chain Hospice Care Service
- Henriksson, Anette, Kristofer Årestedt, Eva Benzein, Britt-Marie Ternestedt, and Birgitta Andershed. “Effects of a support group programme for patients with life-threatening illness during ongoing palliative care.” Palliative medicine 27, no. 3 (2013): 257-264.