Throughout the years we have been providing nursing care in Sydney, we've been asked many questions by the people we care for, by their family, and by their close friends. We’ve noticed that lots of those questions relate to palliative care, possibly because it can be a misunderstood form of care.
In this post, we’ve covered the most common palliative care questions that we’ve been asked and those questions we believe need to be asked of care providers. This will help with your understanding of palliative care and potential care providers, so that you can select the one most suited for your needs.
We hope that these questions and our answers below are helpful and if you’d like to find out further information, we’re happy to help. Please get in touch or leave a comment at the end of this post.
What is palliative care?
Palliative care is specialised medical care for people living with a serious illness. This type of care is focused on relief from the emotional stress, pain and other symptoms that come from a serious illness.
The goal is to improve the quality of life for both the patient and their family. Palliative care is provided by a specially trained team of care professionals, doctors and nurses who work together with the patient’s own doctors to provide an extra layer of support.
This type of care is appropriate at any age and at any stage of a serious illness and it can be provided along with curative treatment.
For a more in-depth answer to this question, please read our What is Palliative Care? post.
What are the signs that palliative care might be recommended?
There comes a time when it is clear that treatments are not working as they should and pursuing a cure is no longer feasible. People who need palliative care may experience some of the following symptoms, depending on their illness. These symptoms can impact on their quality of life and be distressing for their family and those caring for them.
It's important to be familiar with these symptoms and work with the patient’s team to determine what can be addressed. Palliative care patients may experience more than one symptom at any given time including, but not limited to:
- Nutrition and hydration
Does palliative care always mean a decline in health?
Palliative care is for any patient with a chronic illness who is experiencing a decreased quality of life. In some instances this can be attributed to symptoms relating to treatments being received for an illness; such treatments can include renal dialysis, oxygen therapy or chemotherapy.
Palliative care is the umbrella where we focus on symptom control to get you through treatments.
Does Palliative Care mean you are dying?
No. Palliative care does not mean death. It’s about symptom management and improving quality of life.
However, this care does serve many people with life-threatening or terminal illnesses. Palliative care also supports patients to stay on track with their health care goals. Palliative care improves the quality of life at any stage of serious illnesses.
Care For Family will take the time to talk to you and your loved ones about what is wanted and needed to provide the most appropriate care. We do this because we believe passionately that anyone needing high quality, safe and protective care, should have access to it.
We offer personalised, professional, and compassionate in-home care that provides peace of mind for family carers, companionship, and supported independence for the person they care for. Our philosophy is integrated into the overall care of our clients and the care their family receives.
It’s about focusing on you and your family and the most effective way for you to navigate your palliative care journey together.
Is palliative care only for old people?
Palliative care provides physical, spiritual, social and emotional support for newborns, infants, teenagers, and young adults with a life-limiting illness and their families.
There may be a whole range of emotions to deal with after a diagnosis of a life-limiting illness. There is a range of specialist palliative care services for children, teenagers and young adults. Peer support is very important for teenagers and young adults.
This type of palliative care can also be provided at home. Read about what happens when you have in-home palliative care.
Does palliative care mean your doctor is no longer involved?
It is important to know that the specially trained palliative care team works closely together with your primary doctor. They focus on the stress, other symptoms and side effects from the disease and its treatment.
Your own doctor will focus on your general health or treating your disease or condition, whilst the Palliative doctor would concentrate on preventing and alleviating suffering, improving your quality of life and helping you and your loved one cope with the stress of your illness.
Palliative doctors can assist you with difficult medical decisions as part of a Palliative Care Pathway.
Do I still get a say in my loved one’s care?
Having an early discussion with your loved one about what they want can help implement as many of their desires as are feasible.
It is important to ensure your loved one’s essential documents are completed. Some of these documents would include a living will, powers of attorney and guardianship for health and financial needs. Having these documents completed will help you do your best at carrying out your loved one’s wishes and caring for them.
When death is approaching you can say and do a lot to control the environment and make it as comforting and positive as possible.
Read more about other Palliative Care Issues here.
Do I have to send my family member away for palliative care?
If they have symptoms that are difficult to manage, such as seizures or pain, your loved one may find it more comfortable in a hospital with fast access to equipment and drugs. Planning well in advance would be necessary to keep your dying loved one at home.
If you choose in-home care, the palliative care team and experienced nurses and your doctor will visit, and a team of nurses and carers can be present 24 hours a day if required.
How does Care For Family provide specialised Palliative Care at Home?
Our respectful and experienced care professionals are ready to support you when you need it.
Care For Family can offer the same level of care that you would receive in a hospital or a hospice, but if you or your loved one wishes to remain at home, in familiar comfortable surroundings our support teams are ready.
There are challenges supporting a loved one who requires Palliative in-home care and we at Care For Family understand all that is required to support you and your loved ones through this challenging time.
Having the privacy and comfort of your own home and being surrounded by family and friends and all the memories you have created over the years can give you and the patient much comfort in their final moments.
What about the equipment my family member needs?
This will depend on the condition or illness your family member has but some of the most common equipment would be: an oxygen tank, a walker, a wheelchair, a shower chair, a commode, incontinent wear, and an adjustable bed to lift and transfer and/or a hoist.
What is a palliative care team?
Palliative care is typically provided by a team of healthcare professionals with a range of skills. This care team work together to meet a patient’s physical, psychological, social, spiritual and cultural needs. They are usually also available to help family members and their carers.
The members of a palliative care team can include:
- Allied health professionals
- Care Professionals
- Social Workers
- Psychologist specialising in grief counselling and palliative care counselling
Who are the members of your Palliative Care Team?
Our specialised team of trained nurses and care professionals will work together with multidisciplinary teams, your doctors and our clinical team to provide the highest level of quality care.
Care For Family only uses care professionals who have been reference and police checked, hold accreditations, as well as expertise and years of experience working within aged care and always meet any specific care requirements.
Our team psychologist is always on hand to offer counseling to help ease the emotional pain and make communication between all parties easier. The process of this support can be adjusted to suit each individual’s needs at any time.
How can we contact your Palliative Care Team?
A phone call to us at Care For Family to discuss your details and your current situation to establish who is the most qualified person to organise an in-home care needs assessment. Or you can fill our Free Online form here:
With absolute confidentiality we will meet you and your loved one at a suitable time to listen to what you feel your needs are to develop an individually tailored care plan.
We will discuss how our qualified care professionals and nurses can deliver the services you require to enable your loved one to remain comfortable and peaceful in their own home.
At Care For Family, we take the time to listen to and to understand your requests and provide the highest level of quality palliative care.
What makes Care For Family different from other home care providers?
We offer a no charge assessment in your own home at your convenience.
We listen to our clients, as it is their journey and we respect their wishes as well as offering the highest quality support.
Our care teams are consistent and personalised to meet the individual unique care needs of each of our clients.
We have nurses and care professionals who have specialised training in many forms of dementia which would allow our clients to remain at home and enjoy all that is familiar to them.
Our clients can choose who they feel is the best-suited nurse and care professional to care for them.
We are available around the clock.
We care and we do it well.
Getting answers for palliative care questions
It’s completely normal to have lots of questions relating to palliative care and how to integrate this into your loved one’s current care plan. The best thing you can do is to talk to the people who are providing this type of care and to ask questions specific to your situation.
If you’d like to talk to us about supporting you and your family, we’re happy to answer any questions you may have about palliative care, provide advice and a free palliative care assessment so that you can make an informed decision about the road ahead.
You might also like to read the following posts about Palliative Care:
- What Is Palliative Care?
- What Happens When You Have In-Home Palliative Care?
- In-Home Palliative Care Support: What's Available
- Palliative Care Counselling: What You Need To Know
- Professional Advice on The Main Palliative Care Issues
- What is a Palliative Care Pathway? And how does it work?