Palliative care: Introduction

Last updated: Thursday, January 21, 2016

You can download a PDF of the complete text of this tutorial, except the Learning Exercises

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Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness (WHO definition). This involves a holistic assessment of patients needs and effective symptom control is an important part of this. Palliative care may extend for many months and is not confined to the final days of life. This tutorial briefly describes the management of some commonly encountered symptoms in adults.

Watch this video which gives the patient’s perspective, and that of her partner, on the impact that good palliative care has on her quality of life. You might also like to listen to this interview with a palliative care consultant in Lancashire, who summarises for patients the role of the palliative care team in improving the lives of people with a life-limiting illness. Another video interview with a specialist nurse in a community hospice explains what it is like to work in palliative care.