When Should Someone be Offered Palliative Care?

A question loaded with concern that we often hear from loved ones and family carers is when should someone be offered palliative care? Here we answer that question and many related ones.

What is palliative care?

Often ‘when should someone be offered palliative care?’ is a question that comes on the back of misunderstandings. The biggest misunderstanding is what palliative care actually is.

Palliative care isn’t just care for those who are dying. It is the support and care needed, both practically and emotionally, by those with terminal illness or a life-limiting condition. Palliative care isn’t time bound, it doesn’t ‘run out’, and can last for days, weeks, months or even years.

When should someone be offered palliative care?

Given that palliative care is the type of care needed by someone living with a life-limiting or terminal illness, it is often considered to be an intensive form of care. This should be offered to help manage pain and enable daily living as much as possible. As such, palliative care can start at any point that the individual or those caring for the individual determine it to be necessary.

Where is palliative care provided?

Again, many misconceptions surround how and where palliative care is provided. It can be offered at home, in a hospice or in a residential care home.

How is it decided that someone should receive palliative care?

When deciding the type of care for a loved one, there are many different factors to consider. It’s important to get the most appropriate type of care for the individual. There are a number of different things that you may wish to discuss with other family members, as well as with their healthcare professionals. These include:

·The condition

Your loved ones’ condition is a large determiner in whether someone should receive palliative care. Healthcare providers may be able to provide a prognosis that gives shape to the progression of their condition and how this will affect the care they need in coming times. They will explain the symptoms to be expected and when, and what treatment is available. This helps the individual and their loved ones make an informed decision about palliative care.

·The setting of care and the care available

Palliative care, or indeed any care, is not a one-size-fits-all approach. However, care provision can vary enormously. By choosing care within a residential setting, it is possible to scale-up care as needed, moving to palliative care when the time is right.

·Expectations, hopes and wishes

It is vital that the expectations, hopes and wishes of the cared-for individual are factored in to deciding when someone should be offered palliative care, wherever possible. It should be flexible, allowing for an individual to adapt to things such as their prognosis or their changing symptoms. Care should, in the most cases, be led by the individual in line with their wishes and needs. It should always be personalised.

At Eastleigh, our palliative care is tailored to the individual with dedicated care support plans, offering a flexible approach.

Challenging the misconceptions of palliative care

Unfortunately, the term palliative care is often misused and this leads to much confusion. There is also a lot of overlap with other terms, such as end-of-life care and hospice care. Palliative care is broader and less fixed. It can be thought of as a wider umbrella term.

This means that receiving palliative care does not mean that you will have to go into a hospice, or that you will die imminently. Palliative care can be provided in the right setting for you. We provide palliative care alongside other forms of residential care and nursing care at our Minehead and Raleigh Mead homes.

Palliative care does not mean that you are going to die soon. It is about ensuring you get the pain management and symptom management you need. It is possible to recover, depending on your condition, when you have been receiving palliative care. Palliative care can be provided for years. Receiving palliative care should never stop an individual receiving further specialist support and treatment.

How do you access palliative care?

You may be signposted to palliative care options by a healthcare provider. However, you don’t need to wait for this to happen. You can decide for yourself or for a loved one, when palliative care is the best course of action. You can choose to have palliative care in a number of different settings, including the home and a residential care home.

At Eastleigh, we are proud to offer high-quality, responsive and supportive palliative care in Somerset and North Devon. Offered within our residential homes, the care is tailored to the individual and can meet their individual needs. Explore palliative care options at Eastleigh by getting in touch on 01769 573166.