What Is Palliative Care?

The word ‘palliate’ came from the root to cover; the word in usage means to alleviate or to ease. The World Health organization defined Palliative Care; “it is as an approach to improve the quality of life of seriously ill patients and their families.” There are many reasons for prolonged and serious illnesses; cancer is one among them. Their problems are many; they may be physical, emotional, social and spiritual in origin. When one member in the family suffers, all the members in the family feel the sting. Palliative care is the sum of all the measures that can be taken to reduce or to alleviate these difficult symptoms. It takes a team to work together for the help of these patients and the families. They work hand in hand to improve the quality of their life. In case the disease is terminal, the attempt is to get the best of the rest of the days left.

The Palliative Care Team is lead by a doctor specialized in that area. To day, Palliative Care is a specialty just like Cardiology, neurology or oncology. The other members of the team are nurses with special training in Palliative Care, a social worker and a chaplain. In addition to the above, the team seeks the help of pharmacists, physiotherapists and respiratory therapists and others as the need comes.

Most of these patients have intractable pain. They have non-healing wounds very often. Their nutrition is another problem. Some of them cannot swallow; others have problems in their food tube. Yet others have difficulty in keeping the food due to nausea and vomiting. The lack of sleep makes many tired. They need no other reasons for fear, anxiety, loneliness or depression. The goal of the Palliative care team is to ease all these difficulties.