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What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is a type of medical care that focuses on relieving the symptoms and stress of serious illness. ​It is an approach to the delivery of services that care for the patient as a whole person, addressing the physical needs, and emotional, spiritual, and practical concerns.  Palliative care seeks to improve the quality of life of patients facing life-threatening illnesses, as well as their families. The World Health Assembly recommends that palliative care should be part of the healthcare package that governments provide for the whole population, and integrated into the healthcare system including as part of universal health coverage. Palliative care is appropriate at any stage of a serious illness and can be provided alongside curative treatment.

Some keywords associated with palliative care include:

  • Symptom management: Palliative care aims to alleviate the physical, emotional, and spiritual symptoms of serious illness.

  • Quality of life: Palliative care is designed to improve the quality of life for people with serious illness and their families.

  • Patient-centered care: Palliative care is focused on the needs, goals, and preferences of the patient and their family.

  • Team-based care: Palliative care is provided by a team of healthcare professionals including doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, and others.

  • Hospice:  Palliative care can also be provided in hospice settings, which are designed for people nearing the end of life. Hospice care can be provided in a variety of settings, including at home, in a hospice facility, or in a hospital.

  • End-of-life care: Encompasses a broader range of services and support for individuals who are approaching the end of their lives. This can include hospice care, as well as other types of medical, emotional, and practical support for individuals and their families.

What is Palliative Care Team?

A palliative care team typically includes a physician, nurse, and social worker who work together to provide comprehensive care to individuals with serious illnesses. The goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of life for both the patient and their family, by managing physical symptoms, addressing emotional and spiritual needs, and providing support through the end-of-life process.

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Typical palliative care stages

  1. Assessment: During this stage, healthcare providers assess the patient's physical, psychological, spiritual, and social needs.

  2. Pain and Symptom Management: The goal of this stage is to relieve symptoms and improve the patient's quality of life.

  3. Communication and Decision-Making: This stage involves open and honest communication with the patient and their family, as well as decision-making about the patient's care and treatment options.

  4. Emotional and Spiritual Support: Palliative care also includes emotional and spiritual support for the patient and their family. This can include counseling and chaplain services.

  5. Advance Care Planning: Advance care planning involves discussing and documenting the patient's preferences for end-of-life care.

  6. Bereavement Care: After the patient's death, bereavement care is provided to support the family during their grieving process.

Note: The stages of palliative care can overlap and occur simultaneously, and the specific stages may vary depending on the individual patient's needs and circumstances.

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