News of a long-lasting disease or a life-threatening illness can be devastating and not something we come by every day. Typically, ones quality of life is substantially affected. In such cases, palliative care comes in to help. It focuses on making the lives of people diagnosed with a serious or life-threatening disease – and those that care for them – easier.
The following is a guide for palliative care, who it’s for and what’s included.
What is palliative care?
Palliative care is specialised medical care for persons living with a serious disease. This kind of care aims at providing the patient relief from pain, stress, and other symptoms of the illness. Its goal is to enhance the quality of life for the ailing individual, the family, and the caregiver. You can receive palliative care from home, within select disability housing or hospital care units should you need to be close to a physician round the clock.
Palliative care is offered by a specially-trained team of physicians, nurses, and other care providers working collaboratively with the patient’s other doctors to offer an extra layer of care and support. This type of care is based on your needs and not their prognosis. Also, it can be provided to people at any age or stage of the illness and may be offered alongside curative treatment.
Who is palliative care for?
Palliative care has no age limit. It’s meant for anyone living with serious illnesses such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart failure, end-stage kidney, lung disease, etc. Palliative care is best offered soon after the diagnosis.
In addition to helping patients manage symptoms and improve their quality of life, palliative care also helps ailing persons understand the medical treatment choices at hand. This means that the organised services available through palliative care may be helpful for older persons living with chronic diseases.
What does palliative care include?
The prime goal of palliative care is to improve the overall wellness of individuals suffering from serious illnesses. It helps people deal with both the stress and symptoms associated with the illness. However with varying diseases, individual needs may vary from one person to another.
Generally, a palliative care plan may include one or more of the following objectives:
- Enhancing understanding of a disease and its progression
- Determining and addressing spiritual and practical needs
- Alleviating the symptoms of the disease, including the side effects of treatment
- Helping in comprehending treatment options, making treatment decisions, and coordinating care
- Assisting patients cope with changes and feelings related to the illness.
- Determining and accessing additional resources to offer support
These are a few of the services included in palliative care. The list can be longer depending on the specific illness.
Benefits of palliative care for those who need it and their families
The benefits of palliative care are countless, ranging from improving the patients’ quality of life to relieving stress and other symptoms.
Here are some of the benefits of palliative care.
- Improves the quality of life: Palliative care’s primary focus is on the quality of life. It aims at relieving suffering and offering the best standard of living to patients and their families. The team of care providers will provide you with the 24/7 support you need.
- Relieves patients from stress and symptoms of terminal diseases: Physicians, nurses, and other specialists treat patients suffering from stress and symptoms of serious diseases like cancer, dementia, ALS, Alzheimer’s, etc.
- Helps patients and their families understand treatment plans: Palliative medical professionals work closely with patients and their families to help them understand the illnesses and the treatment plans at hand.
- Minimizes unnecessary hospital visits: Palliative care improves patients’ quality of life, reducing pain and other symptoms, minimising the number of hospital visits required.
- Helps patients match treatment options with their goals: Different people have different needs. The palliative care team helps the patient match their treatment with their goals, to provide individuals with more control over their care, enhancing their quality of life.
These are some of the main benefits of palliative care. The list may be longer depending on an individual’s illness and needs.
Who provides palliative care?
Palliative care is offered by specialist palliative care providers equipped with specific knowledge and skills to help you, your family, and your caregivers. Palliative care staff comprises people with expertise in symptom management, spiritual, cultural, practical, and emotional care. This includes specialist allied health professionals including physicians, nurses, allied health practitioners, and spiritual care workers.
In Australia, you may access palliative care from any of the following places:
- Aged care providers
- NDIS registered providers
- Community palliative care
- Outpatient clinics
Reach Out to OSAN for Palliative Care
In addition to improving your quality of life and helping you manage symptoms, palliative care enables patients to understand their illness and the treatment options. If you’re looking for palliative care from expert carers and allied health professionals, get in touch with OSAN Ability to find out how we can help you.