About Adult Palliative Care

"Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem 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".

World Health Organisation 

Palliative Care - what is it?

Palliative Care is an approach which aims to improve the quality of life of patients and their families who are facing the problems associated with life-limiting illness.

Adopting a palliative care approach to someone’s care involves committing to early identification, assessment and management of: 

  1. pain and other symptoms 
  2. changes to physical or social functioning which  may result from the illness 
  3. suffering related to psychological, social or spiritual distress.

It involves harnessing the expertise of nurses, doctors, physiotherapists and occupational therapists, social workers, counsellors and chaplains.

Palliative Care- who is it for?

A palliative care approach can be adopted in the care of anyone who has a life-threatening or life-limiting illness. In particular, people who are likely to benefit are those experiencing:

  • physical symptoms, 
  • difficulties managing their usual daily tasks, 
  • strain in their relationships with others, 
  • or psychological or spiritual distress 

These problems can be associated with cancer and other life-limiting illnesses such as heart failure, some lung conditions and progressive neurological conditions.

Palliative Care- when should it start?

A palliative care approach can be appropriate from the time of diagnosis of a life-limiting illness. It can be delivered at the same time as other care designed to extend life, such as chemotherapy, in the case of a cancer diagnosis.

Palliative Care- who delivers it?

All health care professionals can adopt a palliative care approach by committing to early identification, assessment and management of pain and other symptoms and to alleviating suffering related to psychological, social or spiritual distress. 

Some health care professionals work exclusively in palliative care and are considered to be experts or specialists. Your GP or other hospital specialist may refer you a community, hospital or hospice-based specialist palliative care team if you are experiencing ongoing difficulties due to your illness. Hospital and community-based specialist palliative care teams generally work closely with your GP and District Nurse/Public Health Nurse, providing advice to them regarding your care.