Palliative care is the care of a person with a life-limiting illness with the aim to enhance their comfort and well-being. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines palliative care as “an approach that improves the quality of life of individuals and their families facing the problem associated with a 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”. The WHO further outlines that palliative care:
- 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 patient’s illness and in their own bereavement;
- uses a team approach to address the needs of patients and their families, including bereavement counseling, if indicated;
- will enhance the 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
Palliative care may be provided at home, in a hospital, hospice, or a residential aged care facility. Care workers apply the palliative approach based on the Guidelines for a Palliative Approach in Residential Aged Care.
It is essential for care workers to continue to enhance their knowledge and skills to contribute to the care of clients with a life-limiting illness or those who are approaching the final stages of the normal aging process. There a number of resources available for this.
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