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
113. Palliative care is based on a number
of principles and aims to:
Affirm life and regard dying as a
Provide relief from pain and other
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.