Palliative Care

Resources and advice for patient, family and caregivers.

Who Provides Palliative Care?

The professionals who provide this care fall into two main groups: general care and specialist care.

General care

Those who give day-to-day care to patients with advanced illness and their family and friends such as your GP, community nurses or Marie Curie Nurses.

Specialist care

Experts in palliative care such as consultants in palliative medicine or clinical nurse specialists. In several countries, specialised non-profit organisations organise palliative care in local communities. Your GP should be aware of them and can guide you.

You’re likely to need both general and specialist care as your needs change. Palliative care can be provided in different places including in your home, in hospital, at a care home or a hospice.

General Care

Providing general palliative care is part of many health and social care professionals’ jobs. You might see these people regularly as part of your clinical treatment:

  • Your GP
  • Community nurses
  • Social workers
  • Care workers

Spiritual Care Professionals

These professionals should be able to assess your care needs and those of your family and friends. They should meet those needs where possible and know when to seek specialist advice. The aim of general palliative care is to provide:

  • Information for you and your family or friends, and signposting to other services
  • Accurate and all-round assessment of your needs
  • Co-ordination of carer teams in and out of hours
  • Basic levels of symptom and pain control
  • Psychological, social, spiritual and practical support
  • Good communication with you, your family or friends and the professionals supporting you
  • Non-profit palliative care organisations also assign trained volunteers to keep the patient company, allowing the family carers to have some free time for themselves.

Specialist Care

Specialist palliative care services manage more complex patient care problems that cannot be dealt with by generalist services. Specialists usually work in teams to offer joined-up care and you might see one or more specialists when you’re referred. Specialist teams include:

  • Doctors and nurses
  • Counsellors
  • Specialist allied health professionals, such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dieticians and social workers

Specialist palliative care services may be provided by various different organisations including National Health Authorities, local councils and voluntary organisations. These could include inpatient and outpatient facilities and bereavement support services for relatives of patients.

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