When a person is told they need palliative care, it can be quite a scary and emotional experience for them and their family members.
That is understandably so, which is why it is so important to know the right information about palliative care so that the whole process can be made easier.
We won’t go too much into detail regarding what palliative care is and what is included (or excluded) from it – the information surrounding it is abundant online and they are pretty comprehensive and easy to understand.
Instead, we are going to talk about the principles that go behind the shaping of this whole palliative care services – the philosophy that is so integral in the provision of overall care to a patient (and their family members).
3 Important Principles of Palliative Care
While there are certainly more than 3 principles that go behind the forming of palliative care, the following three are of particular importance (in our opinion) which we wish to discuss more in-depth:
1. Care is patient, family and carer centred
Palliative care is not simply a process that a patient undergoes in the hospital by themselves. Rather, it involves the patient’s family and carer altogether in coming up with the whole care planning. We call the latter two “partners” in the process – their active involvement is of particular importance, especially in the decision-making process regarding the provision of the patient’s healthcare.
Research has shown that patients’ satisfaction with the health care services they received increases substantially when their families and carers are all involved and supported by the health system, and this improves their self-perceptions and helps with their empowerment.
2. Care provided is based on assessed need
One main goal of palliative care is to help patients achieve the best quality of life as they live out their final time on this earth. This means to help them live the life they want, as comfortably as possible.
This also means that the care made available to them should be individualised based on their goals, wishes and circumstances as different individuals have different needs.
The thing to remember is that “people’s needs change”. Palliative care should therefore centred on regularly assessing the need of patients, families and carers so that the services provided can be responsive and flexible in meeting these changing needs. Having such a principle ensures the program sticks to what it promises – ensure people who are approaching and reaching the end of life get the right care in the right place at the right time.
3. Care is evidence-based, clinically and culturally safe and effective
Of course, safety is a top priority when it comes to considering palliative care for a loved one. It is important to let patients and their families have the confidence that such care is clinically, culturally and psychologically safe for them, that what they are receiving is evidence-based and that there will be no preventable harm experienced during the process.
What this means is that palliative care services should be provided in accordance with the best practice recommendations and are organized for quality. When people have confidence that there are effective partnerships between consumers and healthcare providers and organizations alike at all levels of healthcare provision, planning and evaluation, they would feel more at ease and have peace of mind that their loved ones are in good and capable hands.
And that sums up the 3 major principles that are, in our opinion, pillars to the success of palliative care.