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The Difference Between Palliative Care and End-of-Life Care, and how Westgate can help

Award-winning care is something we provide here at Westgate Healthcare, but there can be some misunderstanding about what palliative care is and how it differs from end-of-life care. Although palliative care can include end-of-life care, it is not limited to the care someone would receive at the end of their life.

In this guide, we’ll explain what the difference between palliative care and end-of-life care is and who is responsible for providing the necessary medical and psychological support.

What is palliative care?

If you have an illness that cannot be cured, palliative care will help you manage the pain, reduce the distressing symptoms and make you as comfortable as possible. As well as managing the physical symptoms, emotional, psychological and spiritual support can be provided for the individual as well their family and friends to treat the whole person and not just their illness or its symptoms.   

While palliative care includes end-of-life care, the key difference is that it can be used at any point along the treatment process. The time spent in palliative care differs from person to person depending on the illness and the type of support they need. While some people might spend years receiving palliative care for a prolonged illness, others might only request this type of care in the months, weeks or days before they pass away. During this immensely tough time, our care team works closely with the individual and family to make them as comfortable and dignified as possible. It’s certainly never easy, but having staff who genuinely care can make a big difference.

Who receives palliative care?

Palliative care is for those suffering from a life-limiting illness that cannot be cured. That includes those who:

  • Are suffering from an advanced illness such as cancer, dementia or motor neurone disease
  • Have an acute condition caused by a traumatic event such as an accident or stroke
  • Are elderly or frail and have co-existing conditions that could bring death in 12 months
  • Have an existing condition and are at risk of a sudden decline that could cause death

Who delivers palliative care?

Palliative care is delivered by teams made up of different healthcare professionals such as nurses, GPs, physiotherapists and occupational therapists. It can be delivered in a number of settings including care homes, hospitals, hospices or in the home. Palliative carers coordinate the care individuals receive and create personal care plans to make sure their unique health and wellbeing requirements are met.

What is end-of-life care?

End-of-life care is treatment, care and support for people who are nearing the end of their lives. It is an important part of palliative care and aims to help people live as comfortably as possible in their last months, weeks or days of life and to die with dignity. It is particularly geared towards managing the physical symptoms and providing emotional support for the individual, their family and their friends.

Every individual has the right to express their wishes about where they want to receive end-of-life care and where they want to die. It helps if the individual’s wishes are written down as a personalised care plan which is reviewed regularly as the situation changes. We support loved ones all the way through the process – you may have many questions about the care plan or types of treatment, and so our staff are would be happy to guide you through this process.

Every moment counts (pdf) describes what person-centred end-of-life care should look like.

Who receives end-of-life care?

People are considered to be approaching the end of their life if they’re likely to die within the next 12 months, although it’s not always possible to predict when someone will die. End-of-life care is also given to those whose death is thought to be imminent.

Who delivers end-of-life care?

If you receive end-of-life care at home or in a care home, your GP will have ultimate responsibility for your care. Community nurses are likely to visit you regularly at home and friends and family may take an active role in caring for you.

Compassionate, high-quality palliative care

At Westgate Healthcare, we provide palliative care at every one of our care and nursing homes and meet individual needs 24 hours a day. Find out more about our palliative care service, as well as other types of care such as residential, nursing and dementia care. Get in touch with us for more information.  

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