Palliative care is specialised medical care for people with serious illnesses. We focus on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of a serious illness – whatever the diagnosis.
The goal of the palliative care service is to improve quality of life for both you and your family. Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses and other specialists, who work with a patient's other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. Palliative care is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and it can be provided together with curative treatment.
The team includes a palliative medicine consultant, along with a registrar, three clinical nurse specialists, a social worker and an occupational therapist.
You may be referred to the palliative care services if you have been diagnosed with a life-limiting condition such as cancer, heart failure or motor neuron disease. You may have:
Complex symptoms resulting from the condition and/or
Complex psychological or social needs related to the condition which persist despite the care being provided by other professionals
You may be referred to palliative care so that you can get advice and support on:
If your relative is in hospital, just speak with a member of the medical team responsible for their care and ask them to send a referral to the palliative care team. If your relative is at home or in a nursing home, the GP should be contacted and asked to refer the person to the local palliative care team.
A clinical nurse specialist is a nurse who has completed nursing training and gone on to specialise in a particular area. All clinical nurse specialists have a postgraduate diploma or master’s degree in palliative care.
The clinical nurse specialist is a liaison between the patient, their family, the medical team and GP/public health nurse and community services.
A family meeting is a meeting between you, your family/significant others and the team of people caring for you in the hospital. A family meeting is routinely organised as part of your hospital stay.
A family meeting allows for:
The hospital consultant who is responsible for your care can refer you to the palliative care team. The palliative care team can help the medical team to refer patients to a hospice or the community palliative care service that covers the patient’s home area.
Palliative care is an inpatient only service.