PALLIATIVE CARE JOURNEY
Palliative Care is the delivery of care to all patients in need of the service irrespective of the underlying pathology. In essence it is the management/control of symptoms and the provision of psychological and spiritual support for patients and their families. The aim of palliative care services in the community is to support those that choose to remain living at home with an advancing cancer diagnosis or a progressive life limiting illness including those resident in a community hospital or nursing home.
Understandably, this is a difficult time for you as a patient, care giver or family member. It is vital that all aspects of future care is explored and discussed specifically to your needs. Take the time to consider and process all the information received to inform the decisions that are to be made. It may be useful to consider what structures are currently in place that will allow for care at home to continue. In addition, identifying what structures are required to sustain the care needed. Your community service providers such as your GP and Public Health Nurses/ District Nurses are key and as the primary carers should therefore be part of this discussion with you and your family, in conjunction with the advice received from other health professionals involved from within the acute hospital setting.
Sustaining palliative care within the community is a collaborative approach between hospice services and community service providers. Ultimately, it is your GP that will be responsible for your medical care under the support of the specialist palliative care team within the community. Additionally, the Public Health Nurses/ District Nurses will provide nursing care on the basis of needs. Other disciplines within the community may be involved in the care provided to varying degrees. These may include the occupational therapist, physiotherapist, speech and language therapist and social workers.
Clear communication is key and will ensure a co-ordinated approach in supporting care at home. Your views are important and will be centre to the decisions that will be made in relation to the care provided.
A Directory of Palliative Care Services can be found on the Irish Association of Palliative Care website: www.iapc.ie/directory