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Palliative Care and End of Life Care

Palliative Care

Palliative care is for people living with a life limiting illness that cannot be cured. Palliative care is helpful in any complex illness where patients need their symptoms controlled. It  is not just for patients with particular diagnoses, such as cancer. Although people who need palliative care usually have an advanced, progressive condition, this is not always the case. Palliative care is about improving how a patient feels,  so it can be helpful at other stages of an illness.

Red leaves on branch - tree

Palliative care can be provided alongside other treatments for the underlying disease such as renal dialysis, medical treatment for heart failure, or chemotherapy/ radiotherapy for a cancer. It is provided by everyone involved in supporting this wide group of patients in the hospital and in the community (for example hospital specialists, ward nurses, general practitioners and district nurses).  This care is supported by Specialist Palliative Care Teams. 

Palliative care:

  • improves quality of life

  • gives relief from pain and other distressing physical symptoms (such as sickness)

  • supports life and keeps people as healthy as possible, regarding dying as a normal process

  • does not speed up or postpone death

  • combines psychological and spiritual aspects of care

  • offers a support system to help people live as actively as possible until their death

  • offers a support system to help the family cope during a person’s treatment and in bereavement

  • uses a team approach to address the needs of the person who is ill and their families

  • also applies to the earlier stages of illness, alongside other therapies that are aimed at prolonging life

  • can take place in hospitals, hospices and also in people’s homes


End of Life

Where palliative care is supporting people who are nearing the end of life, this is called end of life care. End of life care is for people who are considered to be in the last year of life, but it can be difficult to predict when this time starts for some people.  It is an approach to care alongside other treatments and can last days, weeks, months, or sometimes years.

End of life care aims to help people live as well as possible and to die with dignity. It also aims to support people in making plans as their needs change, working out what is important for them to achieve before they die. End of life care continues for as long as you need it.

Links to:

Making plans for the future

Our teams