Being National Palliative Care Week 2017, I thought we’d cover some of the basics that people may not know/understand. So, in my very best Julie Andrews singing voice (that is not even close to being as fabulous as hers…), “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…”
What is Palliative Care?
According to Dictionary.com, to palliate means “to relieve or lessen without curing; mitigate; alleviate.” Palliative care is about easing suffering and this is not restricted to end of life care situations.
Palliative Care Australia defines it as this: “Palliative care is care that helps people live their life as fully and as comfortably as possible when living with a life-limiting or terminal illness.” They further expand on the nature of this care – click here to read.
The World Health Organisation does have a focus in it being related to end of life care and provides this as a specific description:
“Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.” They expand this into more detail, which you can read by clicking here.
Palliative Care includes the provision of a whole host of services that cover the following areas:
- Medical needs
- Physical/Practical needs
- Mental needs
- Emotional needs
- Spiritual needs
It can be provided as part of funded care packages, public health systems or through private service providers (like yours truly).
Why access Palliative Care?
Quite simply, because it makes a difference and can help patients live longer with a better quality of life. There have been numerous studies done on patients who have received palliative and/or hospice care and those who haven’t. The averages range from around one month to well over two months of longer life. Palliative Care is not about invasive/aggressive treatments, so this makes sense. Quality of life is the main thrust of good palliative care. You can find out more about a number of studies by clicking here.
How to access Palliative Care and how does it work?
This can be tricky, depending on where you live. Your best bet is to talk to your medical professionals and ask them what is available to you in your area and for your particular circumstances.
In relation to the spiritual/emotional support services I provide, the support can take a variety of forms. First up, we talk about your situation, your wishes, your aims, what are the deal breakers for you, what’s negotiable and we go from there. Our work can involve any of the following (this is not a full list by any measure…):
- Spiritual Counselling
- Emotional Counselling
- Creation of Memory/Legacy Projects
- Creation/Holding of Sacred Space
- Facilitation of Healing
- Resolution of Issues
- Reframing Hope
Where is Palliative Care provided?
Depending on availability of services, Palliative Care can be provided in your home, in a hospital setting, in a residential aged care facility or in a hospice.
With the care I provide, in person, I generally service the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, along with from Brisbane up to Gympie – I will come to you. However, with technology and the nature of this work being energetic, I can serve anyone, pretty much anywhere.
When to access Palliative Care?
Truly, the earlier the better. Because the aim is easing suffering and creating quality of life, it makes sense to engage with Palliative Care services as soon as possible. Accessing Palliative Care is not about giving up, it’s actually the reverse, it’s embracing what is and working towards creating a good life experience, as defined by the patient, for as long as possible.
I have worked with people from time periods of just a few hours up to almost six months. The earlier we start working together, the quicker we can create some plans to make this time of life as good as possible for as long as possible – as defined by the individual.
For me, Palliative Care provides an opportunity for the creation of great experiences and precious memories – for everyone involved. In truth, Palliative Care is simply an amplified focus on living well, just in a specific set of circumstances. Living well is hopefully what each and every single one of us aims to do.
I hope this de-mystifies Palliative Care. Of course, if you have any queries, please let me know.
Peace & blessings, Sharon