Definitions – Palliative Care

Palliative care:

National Council for Palliative Care

Palliative care is the active holistic care of patients with advanced progressive illness. Management of pain and other symptoms and provision of psychological, social and spiritual support is paramount. The goal of palliative care is the achievement of the best quality of life for patients and their families.

Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care

One way of thinking about “palliative care” is to talk in terms of providing ‘good care’ to people whose health is in irreversible decline or whose lives are coming to an inevitable close. Perhaps what differentiates ‘palliative care’ from ‘just good care’ is the awareness that a person’s mortality has started to influence clinical and/or personal decision-making. However, palliative care is not synonymous with death – it is about life, about the care of someone who is alive, someone who still has hours, days, months, or years remaining in their life, and about optimising wellbeing in those circumstances.

Key message

Palliative care can last for months or years. It is possible to “live well” by controlling symptoms even though the illness has no cure.