From Latin palliare meaning to cloak) is an area of healthcare that focuses on relieving and preventing the suffering of patients. Unlike hospice care, palliative medicine is appropriate for patients in all disease stages, including those undergoing treatment for curable illnesses and those living with chronic diseases, as well as patients who are nearing the end of life.
Palliative medicine utilizes a multidisciplinary approach to patient care, relying on input from physicians, pharmacists, nurses, chaplains, social workers, psychologists, and other allied health professionals in formulating a plan of care to relieve suffering in all areas of a patient’s life. This multidisciplinary approach allows the palliative care team to address physical, emotional, spiritual, and social concerns that arise with advanced illness.
- provides relief from pain, shortness of breath, nausea, and other distressing symptoms;
- affirms life and regards dying as a normal process;
- intends neither to hasten nor to postpone death;
- integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care;
- offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible;
- offers a support system to help the family cope;
- uses a team approach to address the needs of patients and their families;
- will enhance quality of life;
- is applicable early in the course of illness, in conjunction with other therapies that are intended to prolong life, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Palliative care and children
Palliative care for children is delivered differently from the palliative care services for adults. Many children requiring palliative care have life-limiting conditions, as opposed to advanced terminal conditions and children may survive for many years with these life-limiting conditions.
Where children need palliative care it is usually provided at home. In the home, the family is supported by their family doctor, public health nurse and the specialist palliative care team (where available). The medical and nursing care of children in hospitals is the responsibility of paediatric-trained medical and nursing staff, with support from the specialist palliative care service.
What does the Irish Association for Palliative Care do?
Established in 1993 as an all island body with the purpose of promoting palliative care nationally and internationally, the Irish Association for Palliative Care (IAPC) is a multi-disciplinary membership organisation.
The membership reflects the entire spectrum of all those who work in or have a professional interest in the provision of palliative care, i.e.,doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains and pastoral carers, pharmacists, psychologists, physiotherapists, occupational therpaists, dieticians, as well as executive staff and academics and educationalists. Membership also includes clinicians and allied health professionals working in related areas such as geriatrics, oncology, psycho-oncology, paediatrics, and pain management.
As a sole membership organisation for those involved in the provision of palliative care, the IAPC is the primary collective and expert voice for palliative care in Ireland.
The core objectives of the IAPC are to:
- strengthen the capacity of the palliative care sector through developing the professional capacity of individuals
- promote the palliative care agenda through the Association’s collective and expert voice
- drive patient-centred, equitable and accessible palliative care for all who need it through utilizing the Association’s expertise to influence and shape national policy.
For more information on IAPC please go to http://www.iapc.ie/index.php