Palliative care

A Guide To Palliative Care

Palliative care refers to the care given to patients who have been diagnosed with a serious or terminal illness such as cancer. Whilst palliative care doesn’t necessarily have to mean end of life care, it does refer to care for those with complex and difficult illnesses which may not get better. Palliative care aims to help patients, as well as their families, enjoy the best quality care and be comfortable. Our East Berkshire Primary Care Out of Hours Services include access to a palliative care nurse through our out of hours number.

About palliative care

Palliative care concerns caring for those suffering from illnesses where a cure can’t be found, and can be administered from the point of diagnosis, through to end of life care. Palliative care can form a part of different treatments, aimed at making the patient feel comfortable whilst managing difficult and often painful symptoms. Whilst palliative care aims to help ease the suffering of patients, it also provides support and company to patients and those around them. Palliative care is a vital element of healthcare, and one which is often brought into the home as well.

How can palliative care help?

Palliative care can provide treatment and support to patients in areas where they need it. This may include:

  • Helping to improve quality of life for patients
  • Pain relief and treatment of other symptoms
  • Supporting life
  • Helping patients to live as active lives as possible
  • Offering support to families of the patient, as well as support during bereavement
  • Working to establish the best care for patients based on their needs and preferences, working with them and their families to establish a care plan

Palliative care isn’t just provided by specialist nurses, it is also offered by families, friends, doctors and others, and can take place in hospitals, at home, in hospices or care homes. Whilst there is quite a wide scope for palliative care, the care a patient receives would keep them informed of their condition and ensure effective communication throughout care and treatment.

About palliative care nurses

Palliative care nurses are a key element of palliative care, working with patients closely and their families. Some palliative care nurses are volunteers, others work for the NHS, whilst others may work for specialist charities like Marie Curie. Palliative care nurses are assigned during a patient’s treatment for their illness, and can be requested through their GP surgery. Nurses will provide support where needed in the home, hospital or other location and as they work on a shift basis, a patient may be assigned more than one.

Finding out more about palliative care

Dealing with the impact of a serious illness can be daunting, frightening and unfamiliar, and palliative care nurses are there to help patients cope with this. There is a wealth of resources available online, including information on the National Council for Palliative Care website.

Out of hours palliative care

If you find someone you know to be in need of palliative care outside doctor’s hours in East Berkshire, we are able to provide an out of hours palliative care service. Your local surgery will have the contact number for out of hours palliative care nurse to give you the support you need.

More information on palliative care nurses in East Berkshire can be found here.