Living with a serious illness is much like a journey with many ups and downs, twists and turns. For some, it might feel like a roller-coaster ride. Palliative care can help navigate many parts of this journey.
What is palliative care?
In essence, palliative care is all about improving the quality of life and having a professional team walk alongside you.
It is a specialised medical service, offered by a team of experts in this field (doctors, nurses, social workers and others) who work alongside a person’s usual doctor.
This extra layer of support is appropriate for illnesses like serious cancer, end-stage organ failure or neurological diseases. It is never too soon to get a palliative care team involved.
We treat distressing symptoms such as pain and also look after your emotional, social and spiritual well-being. We are happy to talk about & plan for the future, empowering patients and their families to navigate the uncertainties, medical or otherwise, that any serious illness journey brings.
How does palliative care improve quality of life?
It starts with a conversation …
- Who are you and who are your loved ones?
- What does your day look like? Are there things that cause you distress, like pain?
- What don’t you understand about your illness or treatments? What other information would be helpful for you to know?
- What are you worried about? What matters most? What would a good day look like?
- It would even be important to know about your dog.
Then, we decide on a plan together…
- A medical plan to treat symptoms caused by the disease or the treatments such as pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, constipation, diarrhoea, depression and anxiety.
- A ‘personhood plan’, takes into consideration the social, emotional and spiritual needs of a person and their family.
- A plan for the future or an “Advance care plan”, thinking about what might lie ahead:
- What does one want from future medical treatments?
- What needs to be put in place?
- Is there a to-do list?
- An emergency plan: knowing who to call, when and for what.
We know things might change, either in the situation or your thinking. Then we will work together to review the plan.