What is Palliative Care

Below is an explanation of some of the key terms and phrases you will hear regarding palliative care. More information on children’s palliative care and adult palliative care can be found here:

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines palliative care as ‘an approach that improves the quality of life of individuals 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’.

Palliative Care services can be delivered either by generalist staff or by staff who specialise in palliative care.

General palliative care is delivered by multi-disciplinary teams in general practice, primary care and community care settings, hospital units and wards.

A general palliative care approach may be required by many people. It can be provided by General Practitioners, District Nurses/Public Health Nurses, Allied Health Professionals (AHPs), Pharamacists and Social Workers.

Professionals within these fields recognise when specialist palliative care is needed. Specialist palliative care is the management of unresolved physical, emotional, social or spiritual symptoms. It is delivered by specialist multi-disciplinary teams dedicated to palliative care.

The word ‘hospice’ refers to a philosophy or approach to the care of people with life-limiting illness, as well as to a building or care institution where hospice professionals and volunteers provide holistic care to such people and their families.

Refers to all aspects of the care relating to dying, death and bereavement which is provided towards the end of life.

In this context, ‘end of life’ can be from the point of a receiving a life-limiting diagnosis through the weeks before death, up to and including the final hours.

A serious or progressive medical condition that is unlikely to be cured such as advanced respiratory disease, heart failure, renal disease, neurological conditions and dementia.

Care provided by a service which has another medical speciality at its core, but which includes the practice of palliative care principles, with a focus on quality of life.

Care provided by a service which has palliative care as its core specialty. It generally involves a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals working under the direction of a Consultant Physician in Palliative Medicine.

Where is palliative care available?

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland general palliative care is provided by General Practice, Health and Social Care Trusts (Belfast, Northern, Southern, South Eastern, Western and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service). Specialist palliative care is provided by Northern Ireland Hospice, Southern Area Hospice Services, Foyle Hospice, Marie Curie and in dedicated palliative care units within trusts.

Palliative Care is also provided by a range of voluntary and community organisations such as Macmillan.

For a comprehensive list of services broken down by county across the Northern Ireland go to the website of the Irish Association of Palliative Care at: http://www.iapc.ie/directory/

Republic of Ireland

In the Republic of Ireland Palliative Care is delivered through hospitals that are run by the HSE and a number of private hospitals.

It is also delivered by range of hospices across the country. The major hospices include Our Lady’s Hospice and Care Services Harold’s Cross and Blackrock, St Francis Hospice Raheny and Blanchardstown, Marymount University Hospital and Hospice in Cork, Milford Care Centre in Limerick, Galway Hospice Foundation in Galway, St. Brigid’s Hospice in Co. Kildare, the North West Hospice in Sligo and Donegal Hospice in Letterkenny.

There are other smaller hospice providers, hospice Foundations and also private homecare service providers. LauraLynn provides a children’s hospice.

For a comprehensive list of services broken down by county across the Republic of Ireland go to the website of the Irish Association of Palliative Care at: http://www.iapc.ie/directory/

Visit one of The Palliative Hub websites today