What is Palliative and End of Life Care?

Palliative Care is:

A special kind of health care for individuals and families who are living with a life-limiting illness that is usually at an advanced stage.

The goal is to provide comfort and dignity for the person living with the illness as well as the best quality of life for both the patient and his or her family.

An important objective is the relief of pain and other symptoms.

Palliative care meets not only the physical needs but also the psychological, social, cultural, emotional and spiritual needs of each person and family.

In Canada, both hospice care and palliative care are used to refer to the same thing, however, some people use hospice care to describe care that is offered in the community rather than in hospitals.

(Source: Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association)

 

What is Hospice Palliative Care?

Hospice Palliative Care helps people who are terminally ill live out their remaining time in comfort and dignity. It is helpful not only when a person is approaching death, but also at earlier stages of an illness.

It can also help families meet the challenges they face when a loved one’s illness cannot be cured.

Integrated Palliative Approach

An integrated palliative approach makes key aspects of palliative care available to individuals and families during an incurable illness, and in all care settings.

When people have access to hospice palliative care services integrated with their other care, they report fewer symptoms, a better quality of life, and greater satisfaction with their care.

The health care system reports more appropriate referrals, better use of hospice care, fewer emergency room visits and hospitalizations, and less use of ineffective, intensive interventions in the last days of life.

Role of Hospice Palliative Care During Illness

When you are facing the threat of death, you have to make a painful transition from thinking of yourself as “somebody who might die” to “someone who will die.” The transition has many stages and is difficult no matter what your age or the nature of your illness.

Phases include:

  • The beginning or early phase as you face the threat of death
  • The illness phase, where your pattern of living becomes altered by physical decline
  • The final phase, when you are approaching death

Illustrated above, palliative care is introduced early when the diagnosis of an incurable disease is made. Therapy to modify the original illness is often provided hand-in-hand with palliative care. As your disease progresses, you see that fewer disease treatments are provided, while more hospice palliative care is provided to the end-of-life. At the far right of the illustration is Bereavement, which is the grief support provided to your family and others, after your death.

Where Do I Get Hospice Palliative Care?

Hospice palliative care can be delivered in many care settings, including the place you call home. The settings may include your own home, a seniors residence, the Emergency Department or acute care unit of your local hospital, or long-term care.

You and your family will decide which is the best place is for you to receive your care. It will change over time, depending on your circumstances.

For more information refer to our Resource Guide.

Connect with someone to help by contacting our Community Outreach & Education Coordinator at info@pcsbv.ca.