Palliative care services are available for anybody at any stage of life who is experiencing a life-limiting illness. With professional care, whether it comes through at-home or facility services, patients can enter the final stage of their life in comfort and potentially live longer.
Banfields Aged Care in Phillip Island focuses on providing compassionate care that does not solely focus on the disease or illness a patient is trying to overcome. Rather, we aim to improve the quality of life and support the autonomy of our patients so they can enjoy every day as it comes.
What is palliative care?
Palliative care is a form of practical support offered to anyone with a life-limiting illness such as cancer, dementia, or Alzheimer’s. It aims to not just manage the symptoms of a patient’s illness but to also improve their and their family’s lifestyle.
The form of care a patient receives is flexible as everyone requires their own plan to support their unique needs. One person may prefer community palliative care to enjoy their days alongside others, while another may require temporary specialist palliative care services to ensure their well-being.
It is important to remember that palliative care is not intended to postpone death or shorten the timeline before a patient’s final days. Rather, it is a means of support that affirms the positives of life and helps a patient to live as actively as possible. Support is also extended to the families in order to help them cope with their loved one’s condition and potential passing.
You can access palliative care through various institutions, including:
- Aged care facilities
The 3 types of palliative care
The holistic nature of palliative care means that medical and physical treatment of a patient’s condition is not the sole focus. Rather, professional care encompasses all of a patient’s needs in order to live their life to the fullest.
The physical scope of a patient’s care extends beyond following their medical treatment plan. Physical care also covers areas such as:
- Dietary requirements
- Pain management plans
- Aid for daily tasks
Doctors and other trained professionals are also on-call to deal with any physical issues that arise during care.
Patients’ emotions are absolutely paramount to consider in palliative care as mental health is known to affect physical recovery and overall well-being. Taking measures such as counselling, therapy, prescriptive medicine, and regular check-ins can help patients to maintain a positive outlook on life and feel better.
Every individual has unique spiritual and/or religious beliefs, and this usually does not change under the influence of a life-threatening illness. One of the goals of palliative care is to ensure the person can freely practise these beliefs for their peace of mind.
In-patient accommodation can include a chapel or miniature church where patients can perform prayer and other spiritual activities. Support can also come in the form of helping patients meet cultural and spiritual obligations before the end of life comes, especially in the case of those who do not have family or friends to achieve these goals.
Who can benefit from palliative care?
Palliative care service can benefit anyone diagnosed with a life-threatening illness that affects their quality of life. Its support services are offered to anyone regardless of age and are adjusted based on personal needs and recovery goals.
Ultimately, anyone looking to live a comfortable life, even as they manage with their condition, can benefit from palliative care.
Some examples of common conditions that seek palliative care include:
- Neurological illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Mid-to-late stage forms of cancer
- Heart or lung conditions such as Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Motor neurone disease
- Organ diseases such as end-stage kidney disease
How long does palliative care last?
The length of time required for palliative care varies between individuals, often depending on their condition. However, care generally lasts until recovery, a patient moves into hospice care, or until it is no longer needed.
Accessing palliative care
There are multiple ways to access palliative care, the means of which are often determined by the type of service chosen. While most community palliative care services accept direct referrals, inpatient services typically require referral from a medical specialist in order to allow access.
The types of palliative care services on offer include:
- Inpatient care: Typically accessed through hospitals as a specific unit for those who require complex symptom or pain management in end-of-life care.
- Day hospices: Emotional, psychosocial, and physical support is offered to patients while respite is offered to their carers.
- Community care: Holistic services that include allied health, respite and practical support, nursing care, medications, information, equipment, and access to medical assessment through a patient’s home.
- Outpatient clinics: Early identification of a life-threatening illness that results in interdisciplinary assessment and care planning.
- Consultancy teams: Specialists who provide a range of consulting services across hospitals, outpatient clinics, and other facilities that offer palliative care.
Hospice vs palliative care: What’s the difference?
Hospice care is end-of-life care for someone in the final stages of a life-threatening illness who is not interested in pursuing treatment. This decision is typically determined by a patient who believes the side effects of treatment outweigh the possible curative benefits.
This type of care differs from palliative care services as the latter can be created with or without curative intent. This end-of-life care is focused on comfort but may retain treatment efforts as the patient is interested in improving their condition.
Are there any age restrictions for receiving palliative care?
No. Palliative care is intended as a form of relief for anyone suffering from a physical, neurological, or mental illness that significantly affects their quality of life.
How do I approach the topic of palliative care with my loved ones?
It is common for loved ones to push back when suggesting palliative care. However, if their quality of life requires outside support, it may be time to point out the benefits of receiving professional care. Find the pace that best suits your loved one when it comes to broaching the topic again, and be sure to include others close to them in the process for further support.
What qualifications do palliative care professionals possess?
Palliative care typically involves highly trained nurses, aged care professionals, psychiatrists, and certain specialists for various conditions.
Depending on the provider, there are also often mental health specialists such as therapists and psychologists on-call to provide regular check-ups and assessments to ensure anyone undertaking palliative care is having their mental needs seen to.
What costs are associated with receiving palliative care in Victoria?
Some costs of palliative care in Victoria are subsidised by the Australian government, but it is always best to discuss potential costs with your chosen care provider ahead of treatment. That way you can discover what specific costs will be involved with them, as it can vary between providers.
Compassionate support provided at Banfields Aged Care
Here at Banfields, we pride ourselves on the quality care and support offered by our highly trained team. We are a leading provider of palliative care and other well-being services in the Cowes, Phillip Island, and Melbourne regions. Whether it is encouraging social interactions or aiding in daily tasks, we have the compassion and integrity to make all patients comfortable, no matter their needs.
If you would like to speak with a member of our team about whether palliative care is the right choice for you or a loved one, contact us and let us know what questions you have. We are here to help!