Palliative Care: Health care's best kept secret

e-link is an online, weekly newsletter for Regina and area employees, physicians and volunteers of the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

Palliative Care: Health care's best kept secret

Dame Cicely Saunders was a nurse, physician and writer who founded the hospice movement. She was instrumental in shaping palliative care into the specialized and deeply caring program that it is today. Her vision is still helping to shape palliative care services in the region.

But, before we talk about what modern day palliative care is, let's look at what is not:

  1. It is not a place for people to go to simply die
  2. It is not a place that only supports the patient
  3. It is not a place where your illness receives all of the attention

Each of those elements is parts of what palliative care offers, but what it truly is is so much more.

Palliative care in the RQHR focuses on the patient, their family and their social supports. It provides a safe and comfortable environment where everyone can come and receive education and a helping hand. It's a place where people come to get symptoms under control and then return home. Studies indicate that almost 80 per cent of Canadians wishes to die at home and not in a hospital. The very specialized and caring teams at 3A at the Pasqua and Palliative Home Care work towards making this wish a reality for many of their patients.

There is a common thought that most palliative care patients are in the final days and weeks resulting from a battle with cancer. In the past, this was the case – but today, patients with cancer only make up about 50 per cent of the patient load. So many other diseases also require the specialized care of the palliative team. Some of these are chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), multiple sclerosis (MS), Lou Gehrig’s disease (or ALS) and cardiovascular disease.  This list though is not exhaustive or limiting. If a patient is within six months of the end of their life, no matter what the cause, they can be assessed for palliative care.

The palliative care team works much like any other specialty where the referral from a physician is made and the specialist consults with the patient and physician on the best course of action. Many health care providers across the region play an integral role in assisting patients with palliative care, even if the patient may not need its' specialized services yet.

If you would like to learn more about the work done in palliative care in the RQHR, stay tuned to e-link over the next few weeks as we highlight more of the amazing work this small team does.

 
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