Palliative care can mean different things to different people. The way in which it is experienced by patients and families, will inevitably differ from person to person and from experience to experience. A volunteer doctor will have a different experience to a full-time hospice social worker and the experience of healthcare assistants will differ between Zimbabwe, the UK and Venezuela.
A group of palliative care professionals were asked at the EAPC congress earlier this year: ‘What is palliative care to you?’ and the variation in answers was astounding. ‘Excellent pain control,’ ‘Whole-person care,’ ‘Care by a multi-disciplinary team,’ ‘Patient-centred care,’ ‘…and don’t forget spiritual care!’ were only a few of the many responses.
The WHO defines palliative care as: ‘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… Palliative care for children represents a special, albeit closely related field to adult palliative care.’ (WHO, 2002)
Surely palliative care is all these things and so much more? To explore this idea, the ehospice editors from across the different editions have put together a collaborative, cross-edition series of articles asking the question: ‘Palliative care is…?’
The articles investigate this question from different angles and in various ways, building a picture of what palliative care means for patients, families and care providers across the world. The stories can be accessed through the links below: