The aim of Palliative care is to improve the quality of life of any person who is living with an incurable and life limiting condition.
Palliative care is about:
- making sure that the team caring for a person know how that person would like their care to be in the future.
- what the person’s concerns are about what might happen to them in the future.
- what and who is most important to the person both now and in the future.
- making sure that any unwelcome symptoms or emotional distress are dealt with to the very best of our ability and that the person and their family feel supported at all times.
For more information about what Palliative care can do, see the NHS Inform website.
Most people think of Palliative care as being appropriate for patients with cancer, however a wide range of patients with incurable and life limiting conditions can benefit from support from the Palliative care team, including patients with severe lung, heart or kidney disease.
Our Palliative Care team includes GPs, Practice Nurses, District Nurses and the teams at both St Vincents and Accord Hospices which include Palliative Care Nurse Specialists, Palliative Care Doctors, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Counsellors and Social Workers.
Anticipatory care planning
An Anticipatory care plan (ACP) helps patients to make informed choices about how and where they would want to be treated and supported in the future. An ACP is an extremely important part of Palliative care. For more information about ACPs see our webpage.
What can palliative care do to improve a person’s quality of life?
Palliative care never means less care. Once we know that a person’s life expectancy is limited by the condition they have, the Palliative Care team’s priority is to make sure that the person’s quality of life is as good as it can be, for the rest of that person’s life.
Palliative care can mean that decisions are made to avoid some treatments or procedures when these will not improve the person’s quality of life. Examples might be:
- deciding not to arrange invasive tests that would not be of overall benefit to the person
- allowing the person to be cared for at home without any further hospital admission (if this is what they would like)
- allowing a person to die naturally and with dignity and not carrying out traumatic procedures such as CPR (cardiopumonary resuscitation) when a person reaches the end of their life. NHS Scotland has produced a factsheet with more information about CPR which can be downloaded here.
What happens when a person nears the end of their life?
Dying is a natural part of life and people often ask what will happen when a loved one dies. What happens when a person dies is something that is not often talked about. This short video was made by Dr Kathryn Mannix, a retired Palliative Care Consultant. It explains very well what can happen as a person is dying and you may find it helpful to watch.
Support for families and carers of a person receiving palliative care
There is lots of support available for families of or those who care for a person who has palliative care needs. You may find these links helpful:
- www.svh.co.uk St Vincent’s hospice offers support for families and carers as well as for patients. Telephone 01505 705635 to speak to the Community Nurse Specialist.