Definitions and descriptions of palliative care vary but have key elements which focus on:
The official World Health Organisation (WHO) definition:
" Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems 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. " (WHO, 2002)
" patients want to be treated as individuals, with dignity and respect, and to have their voices heard in decisions about treatment and care. Should they need it, they expect to be offered optimal symptom control and psychological, social and spiritual support. They want to be assured that their families and carers will receive support during their illness. " (Guidance on Improving Supportive and Palliative Care for Adults with Cancer, NICE, 2004)
In conclusion - palliative care can be regarded as an approach which supports, in the best way possible, people with life-threatening illness and those close to them. It should be a right not a privilege. This means putting patients at the centre of care, empowering them, listening to them, working in partnership with them and facilitating their choices whenever and wherever possible.
National Council for Palliative Care.(2005) Information Exchange. Feb 2005. Issn 1359 2424.and Palliative Care Manifesto. Can be found on their website: www.ncpc.org.uk
Payne, S., Seymour , J. & Ingleton, C. (eds) Palliative Care Nursing: principles & evidence for practice. Open University Press. England.
Sepulveda, C., Marlin, A., Yoshida, T. & Ullrich, A. (2002) Palliative Care: the World Health Organisation ' s global perspective. Journal of Pain & Symptom Management. 24(2): pp.91-96.