The palliative care team will work closely with the primary physician, patient and family to define their goals of treatment and care.
People living with life-threatening illness may experience pain or discomfort. This pain also affects families and relationships. Palliative care involves a specially trained team working with patients and their families to find the cause of the pain and the best way to relieve it. Pain may be managed with a variety of medications and by other means such as massage therapy and relaxation exercises.
People may experience a variety of symptoms. These can include loss of appetite, nausea, weakness, difficulty breathing, bowel and bladder problems, and confusion. Palliative care can help relieve these symptoms that may be very distressing.
Social, Psychological, Emotional and Spiritual Support
The health of the whole person is important in palliative care. Because of this, palliative care services provide many different kinds of support to both the individual and family from the entire palliative care team.
Families may become concerned about whether they will be able to look after their family member. Palliative care services that help the family cope include:
- Advice and assistance from health care providers such as nurses and doctors who are skilled in providing palliative care.
- Instructions on discharge planning including how to care for the person both physically and emotionally. Support and guidance from the discharge planning nurse.
- Social worker involvement with financial, social, and emotional issues.
- Relief and support for the caregiver by volunteer services.
- Presence and guidance of spiritual services.
- Links to community support such as hospice services.
Palliative care services provide support for family members to work through their own emotions and grief regarding the death of their loved one. Bereavement support may begin when the grieving starts. This may be before the death of the family member.