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Are Palliative & End of Life Care the Same Thing?

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Defining Palliative Care

Palliative care is, according to the Marie Curie website “treatment, care and support for people with a life-limiting illness, and their family and friends. The aim of palliative care is to help you to have a good quality of life – this includes being as well and active as possible in the time you have left.”

Palliative care should be delivered holistically, as a ‘whole-person’ approach, taking into account an individual’s wishes for their emotional, spiritual and social needs, as well as their physical wellbeing. It’s important that the person’s loved ones are also involved in their palliative care journey, if this is what the person wants, as this will benefit all of their emotional wellbeing and help their loved ones to feel more involved with the care process.

Palliative care will see a multi-disciplinary team of healthcare professionals, such as GPs, nurses, carers and specialists being involved with delivering treatments that, while not able to cure you, will try and ensure you have as good a quality of life for as long as possible.

This is where receiving palliative care at home is also highly beneficial, as being able to remain in the home you love with family, pets and precious possessions surrounding you can help a person’s wellbeing on both an emotional and physical level. Helping Hands has been delivering palliative care on a visiting and live-in basis in our customers’ homes for over 30 years, so you know you’ll be in the very best hands with us.

Defining End of Life Care

When the palliative care pathway is reaching its conclusion and all possible treatment options have been explored, a person’s condition will usually begin to deteriorate as the condition takes a firmer hold, and the final few weeks or days of a person’s palliative care is considered end of life.

Naturally, this is a stressful and upsetting time for your loved ones, but by having end of life care at home they will hopefully gain some comfort from knowing you are being looked after in the best possible way.

By being in your own home, you will also have the comfort of familiar surroundings, as well as no restrictions on who or how many people can be by your bed. You may want to look out at a beloved garden, hear your grandchildren playing or feel a precious pet lying by your side, all of which are possible when you remain in your own home for end of life care.

What are the similarities?

End of life is an important part of palliative care, so in that respect there are similarities. Both types of care involve talking to you and your family and friends about what to expect in the years, months or weeks ahead, always focussing on your needs and wishes and making sure your care is carried out exactly as you want it to be.

What are the differences?

Palliative care does not mean you are about to die, whereas when you are designated end of life it means you are usually in the last few weeks or days. Some people are on their palliative care journey for years before their condition begins to deteriorate significantly, so this differs greatly from end of life care.

During palliative care, you will be given treatments and therapies that will attempt to ensure the greatest longevity of life for you, such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy, however by the time someone is considered at the end of their life all treatment options have usually been exhausted and the focus will be on pain management, emotional support for both you and your loved ones and an all-round holistic approach to the time you have left.

Page reviewed by Kerry Feltwell, Regional Clinical Lead on July 16, 2021