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Palliative care

What is palliative care?

Palliative care may be arranged for a person with an incurable condition – such as  cancer or  dementia - as part of their end of life care to make them as comfortable as possible.

Palliative care may be required at an earlier stage than end-of-life care.

Can palliative care be given at home?

Palliative care can be provided at home, hospital or hospice.

What are the principles of and guidelines for palliative care?

A 'holistic' approach is usually recommended covering all of the person's needs - and those of their family - as much as possible, and will include:

  • Pain relief
  • Symptom relief, such as  nausea, fatigue, appetite loss
  • Psychological support
  • Social support
  • Spiritual support, if appropriate or requested.

A team of health professionals will be involved in palliative care depending on individual needs. This may include:

  • Hospital specialists
  • Specialist nurses
  • GP
  • Community nurses
  • Counsellors
  • Social care teams
  • Physiotherapists
  • Occupational therapists.


When should palliative care be considered?

Access to palliative care will be through a GP, hospital specialist or nurse and these health professionals can advise on when palliative care may be appropriate.

Is palliative care free in the UK?

Palliative care from NHS health professionals will be free of charge. However, the social care aspect of palliative care, if a person is in a nursing home, for example, varies in different parts of the UK.

Can palliative care increase survival time?

There is some evidence that early access to palliative care can increase survival times, but this will depend on individual circumstances.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on August 22, 2016

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