During National Palliative Care Week, 19-25 May, Cabrini is encouraging people to consider how they would wish to live out their remaining days if they had a life-limiting illness.
This year’s theme is ‘What matters most?’ and implores people to plan ahead for end-of-life care and to discuss their wishes with their loved ones and health care professionals.
Palliative care is care that is offered to people with a life-limiting illness and encompasses a broad range of services to assist with the challenges that accompany such a diagnosis.
Cabrini’s Head of Palliative Care Associate Professor Natasha Michael said palliative care provided a holistic service to support patients through a diagnosis of a life-limiting illness.
“A referral to a palliative care service helps patients feel supported through the process of their illness. Surgeons help deal with the surgery and technical side of the illness but palliative care helps provide the practical support needed throughout the process, such as support for spouses and family members, assisting with the process of accessing financial help or dealing with the other physical and mental challenges associated with the illness.”
A/Prof Michael said palliative care wasn’t just for the last 48 hours of life but could provide assistance for months and years following the diagnosis of a life-limiting illness.
“When people are referred to a palliative care service, you can see a weight lifted off their shoulders,” she said.
“Being referred to a palliative care service early allows patients to build relationships with key people who can support them through their illness and allows them to have better outcomes. When people receive palliative care we see a dramatic improvement in people’s outlook on life, they are in less pain and have a better disposition.”
“Palliative care helps to improve the quality of life for patients and helps them to live well with a diagnosis of a life-limiting illness. Patients and their family members can self-refer to palliative care services so it is important they feel empowered to ask about these services.”