Living with a Life Threatening Illness

Palliative Care

Palliative care is often associated with cancer but is appropriate for all long term and terminal illnesses. Also known as supportive care, palliative care aims to give the best quality of remaining life rather than finding a cure for a life-limiting illness. This type of care includes the person with the illness and their carers; its focus is the whole person rather than the part affected by an illness or disease.

Palliative care deals specifically with:

  • The treatment and control of pain
  • Other physical symptoms associated with an illness
  • Psychological issues
  • Social needs
  • Spiritual, religious and holistic needs
  • Self help
  • Giving information

Palliative care is often seen as a last resort and if you are the one suffering from the illness it can feel like the end is near if you or your loved ones want to talk about this kind of care. It may be that treatment is no longer an option for you and this type of care is the best option to provide the longest, healthiest, and happiest life you have left

As scientific treatment of many illnesses has progressed the importance of treating the whole person and every aspect of their illness has become more widely recognised. Palliative care is now often offered alongside other treatment. It is important to bear in mind that your terminal diagnosis may not mean death tomorrow. Maintaining or improving your quality of life over the next weeks, months or even years is the priority.

Palliative care can take several forms:

  • In hospital as part of treatment
  • Out patients appointments
  • Through community support programmes and health professionals
  • At home with trained health professionals
  • Hospice care

If you would like to explore your palliative care options then you should first talk to your doctor or a healthcare professional who knows you and your condition. The Patient Advice and Liaison Services (PALS) provide information, advice and support to help patients, families and their carers. You can find their details from your local GP or by looking on PALS. Self help is a key part of palliative care and you begin to find the help and support of others in our forum. You can also find information on complementary therapies here.