Any person, of any age, who has a life-limiting condition qualifies for palliative care. This includes many different types of illnesses, the most common of which are cancers and AIDS. This special type of care is for patients and their families. For more info see What is palliative care?
Bear in mind that different members may have slightly different admission criteria depending on their resources and limitations (geographical distance, staff available, etc.) However, all members are committed to see your palliative care needs are met. Most importantly, the patient himself/herself must consent to joining a palliative care programme. He or she is central in all the decisions that will be made.
How to join a palliative care programme
Anyone may refer a patient to a palliative care service provider – a friend, neighbour, family member or even the patient themselves. The nurses will then go and visit the patient to do an assessment to see if the patient is in need of palliative care. A patient may also be admitted if they have a direct referral from a health care professional (a doctor or nurse). For more info see Find a Hospice or Palliative Care Centre.
What to expect
Should the patient be accepted onto a palliative care programme, the inter-disciplinary team together with the patient will develop a tailor-made plan of care (or care plan). Usually patients are visited by staff in their own homes. The care and support of the team will help the patient and family as they navigate their way through the challenges of living with a life-threatening condition.
The main things members can help with are:
- Pain and symptom control
- Psycho-social support and advice
- Spiritual support
- Emotional support
- Bereavement support
- Equipment (wheelchairs etc)
Many patients choose to go off a programme once they feel better, especially if their pain and symptoms are under control or they are managing well with ARV’s (they may re-enter at any time).
Bereavement support is a very important part of palliative care. After a patient has passed away, the team grieves with the family and friends. They will continue to provide support to the loved ones until such time as the support is no longer needed.