Palliative care is also sometimes called end-of-life care. It is specialised care for those who have a terminal or serious illness. It is designed to make the end of their life as comfortable as possible. Terminal illnesses can include cancer, dementia or motor neurone disease and means an illness that cannot be cured. When you reach the end stages of a condition such as listed above, it is important to manage pain and any other distressing symptoms. Each year approximately 40 million people are in need of palliative care. Looking for palliative care in your area? Or to find out more about what palliative care is? We have outlined it below…
When does palliative care begin?
The stage at which palliative care begins can differ depending on the person and the individual case. Some people can have palliative care for months, others weeks, days or even just for the last few hours of their lives. The stage that you are considered reaching your "end of life" is if you are likely to not live past the next twelve months.
As well as those with a terminal illness, it can also apply to those who are frail with a coexisting condition, have a condition where they are at risk of dying suddenly or have a life-threatening condition that has been caused by something such as a stroke or an accident.
How can a palliative care worker help?
Knowing that you are coming to the end of your life can be an extremely distressing thing to go through and to come to terms with. This is why emotional support is so important. You will likely feel emotions such as shock, fear, anger, resentment, helplessness, anxiety and sadness. You might also feel alone, even if you have a strong support network. Over time you will likely feel a bit better as you come to terms with your diagnosis, but feelings might come back towards the very end of life. This is completely normal and is nothing to be ashamed of. Your palliative care team is here to help you with these feelings and will be here to talk to you, understanding how you are feeling and seeing if there is anything they can do to make you feel better. As well as talking they can look at photos, do mindfulness activities and read you a book to try and take your mind off of your thoughts for a while. They can also get in touch with a psychologist if they feel this would help to benefit you.
Pain management is one of the most important aspects of end of life care. While you may no longer be able to receive treatment such as chemotherapy, this doesn’t mean you should be in any pain. Not everyone who is reaching the end of their life is in pain. However, if you are, your doctor or nurse will find out when your pain started, where it is and if it is affecting you in ways such as stopping you from sleeping or eating. They will aim to prescribe you medicines that are weaker at first such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. They will then move to mild opioids such as codeine and then stronger opioids such as morphine. Medics prefer to not prescribe the latter at the earlier stages. It can often make you feel drowsy or not quite with it so wait until it is really needed.
Support for your family
If you are a family member who is also a carer for someone who is reaching the end of life, it can be tough on you. This is why our palliative care staff are here to help. We can help to spread the load and allow you some relief. It can be very intense caring for a loved one round the clock so we are here to help with that. We can also answer any questions you might have or give you advice if you need it.
Help managing your symptoms
As well as helping you manage any pain that you might be experiencing, we will also assist with other symptoms you might have. If you are bed-bound we can help you to get washed and dressed. We can also change your catheter or stoma bag if you need. We can help with symptoms such as constipation or nausea. And will also liaise with your wider health team for any help you need managing your symptoms.
Here at Secure Healthcare Solutions, we know how stressful and hard it is when you or a loved one are reaching the end of your life. We are here to help ease the stress and make it as pain-free as possible. If you are looking for palliative care, please get in touch with us today. If you are looking for a career in palliative care or for palliative care jobs, we have a range of healthcare job roles here.