Treatments and tests

Palliative care

What is palliative care?

Palliative Care is defined by the World Health Organisation (external site) as an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness.

What does palliative care aim to achieve?

  • provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms
  • affirms life and regards dying as a normal process
  • intends neither to hasten or postpone death
  • integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care
  • offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death
  • offers a support system to help the family cope during the patients illness and in their own bereavement
  • uses a team approach to address the needs of patients and their families, including bereavement counselling, if indicated
  • will enhance quality of life, and may also positively influence the course of illness
  • is applicable early in the course of illness, in conjunction with other therapies that are intended to prolong life, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, and includes those investigations needed to better understand and manage distressing clinical complications.

When is palliative care used?

A palliative approach is used by health professionals to improve quality of life for individuals with a life limiting illness, their caregiver/s and family.

Palliative care is a holistic approach to care that incorporates the needs of patients and caregiver/s. This is reflected in the assessment and treatment of pain, and in the provision of physical, psychological, social and spiritual care.

Application of the palliative approach to the care of an individual is not delayed until the end stages of their illness. Instead, it provides a focus on active, comfort-focussed care and a positive approach to reducing suffering and promoting understanding of loss and bereavement in the wider community.

The underlying philosophy of a palliative approach is the view that death, dying and bereavement are all an integral part of life.

Where to get help

  • See your doctor
  • Visit a GP after hours
  • Ring healthdirect on 1800 022 222

Acknowledgements
Palliative Care Western Australia logo

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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