Select Committee on Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill Minutes of Evidence



  112.  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. Many aspects of palliative care are also applicable earlier in the course of the illness in conjunction with other treatments.

  113.  Palliative care is based on a number of principles and aims to:

    —  Affirm life and regard dying as a normal process.

    —  Provide relief from pain and other distressing symptoms.

    —  Integrate the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care.

    —  Offer a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death and to help the family cope during the patient's illness and in their own bereavement.

    —  Be applied early in the course of the illness in conjunction with other therapies intended to prolong life (such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy), including investigations to better understand and manage distressing clinical complications.

  114.  It is now widely recognised that palliative care has a crucial role in the care received by patients and carers throughout the course of the disease and should be delivered in conjunction with anti-cancer and other treatments. In the minds of patients, carers and some health and social care professionals, however, it tends to be associated with care for dying people. This has significant implications for acceptability and access.

  The above definition is taken from the NICE Guidance on Improving Supportive and Palliative Care for Adults with Cancer, March 2004, paras 112-4.

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