Understanding the Difference Between Palliative Care and End of Life Care

Palliative care is not same as end of life care. Here are the differences.

End-of-life care carries many negative connotations for some. However, it is often an incredibly beneficial service in what can be a  very frightening time. This article aims to address the more common misconceptions and clarify what it is, who it is for and why it is important.

What It Is 

Palliative care, also known as supportive care, is specially tailored care that is aimed at minimising the suffering of those with terminal illnesses as they pass away. Its priority is to ease the passing process and minimise distressing symptoms and suffering. The more common symptoms it aims to control are pain, nausea, bowel irregularities and psychological distress. However, as well as this medical management, it is generally more holistic in its approach than hospital or nursing home care; usually offering enhanced social, emotional, spiritual and psychological support to the patient and those loved ones around them. It involves It commonly involves a wide range of medical and para-medical professionals; from doctors and nurses, to spiritual guiders and social workers.

Who It Is For

Palliative/ end-of-life care can sometimes sound scary and there are many common misconceptions. Although this care is usually administered in a hospice, you are not required to live in one and it is possible to have at home. Palliative care does not mean that medical professionals will stop managing you, or withhold treatment; it is often administered alongside ongoing treatment. Palliative care is not an immediate death sentence; many people receive this type of care for years and years, while for others it may last only days.

Why It Is Important 

If you or someone you know think that you would benefit from this type of care then you should contact your GP or other trusted healthcare provider. They will help guide you to the right service for you. It is often difficult to put an accurate time scale on how long a person will need this care for and what level of input they would most benefit from. For these reasons the decision is best guided by medical professionals. Involve them and open dialogue as early as possible once it has been established that a disease or process is life-ending.