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Myths About Palliative Care

Palliative Care Only Helps the Patient

Palliative care is the journey of care and support that you embark upon when diagnosed with a terminal illness. The palliative care journey can encompass treatments, therapies, and activities that, while not able to cure your illness, will aim to keep you as comfortable, pain-free, and active for as long as possible.
There are several myths that exist around palliative care and the role it has in both the person and their loved ones’ lives, and one of them is that it only exists to support the patient who is going through the illness. The Marie Curie website tells us that palliative care is also designed to “offer a wide range of support for families and friends, including complementary therapies, counselling, spiritual support and practical advice.” Many hospices and day centres offer activities and therapies that the person and family members can take part in together, such as music, film showings, massages, and counselling services. Such organisations recognise the toll that a terminal diagnosis puts on the person’s loved ones and their relationships with the patient, which is why they offer complementary services that the patient and their loved ones can take advantage of and attend together.

Palliative Care is Only for Cancer Patients

Unfortunately, one in two people will get cancer in their lifetime according to Cancer Research UK, and with so many people living with cancer or having a loved one going through their own cancer journey it’s understandable why it is such a high-profile disease. This may be why some people will wrongly presume that palliative care only exists to treat cancer patients, although this is a myth. According to Marie Curie, “palliative care can help people with conditions such as heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, dementia, end-stage liver disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and stroke.” Unfortunately, it seems that people with these conditions may not be as likely to receive palliative services as people living with cancer, “as it’s harder to predict when they might need it.” This means that they may miss out on palliative care altogether, or begin their palliative care journey later, which could leave them and their loved ones at a disadvantage and missing out on a valuable source of support.

Only Hospitals Provide Palliative Care

While there are many dedicated specialists supporting people with their palliative care, healthcare professionals don’t have to be experts to deliver exceptional palliative care, and in the same way, a person doesn’t have to be in a medical environment to receive palliative care support. Most people will have a mixture of in and out-patient appointments, visits from community nurses, treatment from GPs, hospice support, and care delivered at home. Remaining in your own home for palliative care and support can make a noticeable difference to a person’s emotional, as well as physical wellbeing, as being able to spend unrestricted time with partners, pets, and loved ones in an environment they love can certainly support better mental health.
Helping Hands have been offering elderly care at home, and for people on their palliative care journey, since we were established in 1989. With 150 branches across England and Wales, we have the expertise and knowledge to support you, whatever circumstances you’re living with. We offer an unrivalled standard of consistency in our care because we manage all our branches – none of them are franchises – and we have local care teams across the UK who work tirelessly every single day to ensure our customers get to live as comfortably and independently as possible at home.

Palliative Care Accelerates Death

Palliative care, especially if it takes place at home, does not hasten death for the person; if anything, it will make their last months, weeks, and days more comfortable, pain-free, and easier to manage. By having palliative care at home, you are in the surroundings that mean the most to you, which can improve your emotional wellbeing and have a subsequent knock-on to your physical health. In fact, there have been sources that indicate receiving hospice support or care at home can help some patients live longer.
Because Helping Hands specialise in home care, we are the number one choice when you wish to remain in your own home for care and support. Our live-in care services will see someone reside in your home with you around the clock, meaning you are never alone or isolated. This ensures that both you and your loved ones can be reassured that you’re comfortable, leading to less pressure on you all to juggle family life and care duties. Our local branches also offer exceptional visiting care, from a few hours a week up to as much time as you need us and is flexible enough to change as your needs do. Regardless of how long your palliative care ends up being, we can support you for as long as you need us, to give your family a break or because you would like someone permanently with you.

Palliative Care and End of Life Care are the Same

It’s a myth that palliative and end of life care are the same thing, although there are marked similarities. End-of-life care occurs at the end of the palliative care journey so it may proceed in much the same way as the previous weeks and months have, although at the end of life there may be more of a focus on pain management than on other forms of comfort. Regardless of whether it is palliative or end-of-life, the focus must always remain on a whole-person, holistic approach, ensuring that the individual is at the centre of their care journey and that their spiritual, social, and psychological needs are considered. The NHS reminds us that “this is called a holistic approach, because it deals with you as a “whole” person, not just your illness or symptoms.”
Helping Hands have been delivering end-of-life care for our customers for more than 30 years, and because we always focus on the individual in everything we do, you and your loved ones will be comforted by the support you receive. Whether you’re at the start of your palliative journey and dealing with the emotional fallout of a terminal diagnosis, or you’re living as well as possible while receiving treatment, your thoughts will frequently naturally turn to how things will end. You may presume that you’ll end up in hospital or you’re thinking of hospice care, however if you’d prefer to remain in the home you love, that’s perfectly manageable too. We’ve helped thousands of people to pass away with family, friends, and pets around them, looking out over a beloved garden or favourite view, and because we will work seamlessly with your wider healthcare team, all of your needs will be taken care of.
You can discuss how you’d like the end of your life to be managed any time on your palliative care journey, detailing all of your wishes that will then be noted in your support plan. This will make sure that every member of the family and all of your carers understand your requirements, and your wishes are carried out to the letter when the time eventually comes. Talk to our friendly customer service team seven days a week, or chat to your local branch team, whose details you can find here.