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When should palliative care be offered?

When should palliative care be offered?

Palliative care should be offered when someone has a life-limiting condition or chronic illness and they need intensive treatment to either ease the pain and manage the condition or cure the condition completely.

This type of care can begin at any point during a person’s diagnosis and will sometimes result in end-of-life or hospice care. Although some people may choose to receive end-of-life care at home instead of going into a hospice, care at home can often be supported by the expertise of a hospice.


When is palliative care appropriate?

There are lots of things to consider when deciding if palliative care is the appropriate type of support for someone. Initially, there may be a discussion with your healthcare team regarding the care that you may need to help you to manage your condition and live life the way you want to. Points to discuss may include:

What type of condition you have and the treatment available – Although you may not be given a specific prognosis for how long you will have your condition for and whether or not you will eventually pass away from it, it’s important to find out the type of symptoms you will expect to have and the treatment options available, so that you can make informed decisions that are right for you. Once you have decided how you’d like to proceed and if your condition is not immediately life-threatening, palliative care can then be put in place to help you manage with the treatment and day-to-day activities.

Your wishes and expectations – You may decide on a course of treatment but find that the side-effects are too difficult to manage and in fact, you’d prefer to stop treatment all together. Or you may decide to start treatment after initially managing your condition without medication. Whatever you decide on or whenever your decisions change, it’s important that your care is led by you. At Helping Hands, we tailor our palliative care support plans around the individual and their preferences, so that you only receive person-centred support flexible to your needs.


Common misconceptions about palliative care

The term ‘palliative care’ is often grouped together with other similar terms such as ‘hospice care’ and ‘end-of-life care’ and are sometimes thought of as the same type of care. In reality, all three are different; palliative care is an umbrella term that also includes end-of-life and hospice care within it.

There are lots of other common misconceptions about palliative care, including:

If I need palliative care, it means I’ll have to go to a hospice

You may need to go into a hospice or receive hospice care at home if your condition progresses, but having palliative care doesn’t always mean you will need to go into a hospice. If you have a chronic condition that can be treated, you might need palliative care to support with your symptoms and pain management, but you may recover and not progress to hospice care.

Having palliative care means I’m going to die soon

You can receive palliative care at any point during your illness. Some people have care as soon as they are diagnosed or begin treatment, whereas others may only start palliative care at the later stages of their condition. Some people have palliative care for years if they have a long-term health condition, and others may not die whilst receiving palliative care at all. It is very much dependent on the type of condition you have and the treatment that you choose.

If I have palliative care, I’ll no longer be seen by other specialists who know about my particular health condition

Palliative care can be given alongside other treatments and therapy that help with your condition. For example, you may receive radiotherapy for cancer, but still receive palliative care to help with pain management and support at home with chores and personal care.

Palliative care isn’t for family and friends

Although palliative care puts the individual at the centre, their friends and family are very much included in the approach to their care. We understand how difficult it can be for those around you to cope with your illness, which is why we support them too.


How do I get palliative care?

If you’d like to find out more about palliative care and how we can support you at home, you can contact us today. Our friendly customer team will talk through the different options available to you and arrange a meeting with a local care manager.

We will work closely with you, medical professionals already involved in your care and your family, so that you have the right level of support for you and your requirements, including your emotional and spiritual wellbeing too.

If you have more complex health needs, such as a tracheostomy, PEG feeding tube, catheter or stoma, we have a team of experienced nurses who will oversee your support plan and ensure your clinical requirements are fully met by your Helping Hands carer.

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Page reviewed by Samantha Atkins, Regional Clinical Lead on March 4, 2020

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