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What is Palliative Care?

Dame Cicely Saunders

“You matter because you are you, you matter to the last moment of your life. We will do all we can do not only to help you die peacefully, but to live until you die.”

Dame Cicely Saunders
Founder, Modern Hospice Movement

Palliative care takes its roots from the modern hospice movement, which itself takes its origins only as recently as in 1967, when Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the modern hospice movement, built St. Christopher’s Hospice, in England, UK – to meet the physical, social, psychological and spiritual needs of patients with life-limiting conditions. But today, Palliative care has developed far beyond the original hospice movement and is being seen as the third arm of medicine (preventative, curative and palliative)

When one falls seriously ill, it affects every part of our lives, and also affects those who are a part of our lives. Moreover, when the condition is beyond cure the emotional trauma can be quite paralyzing. Palliative care tries to address this by providing physical comfort and medical aid to bring symptoms under control. It assists with daily nursing needs. It provides emotional support to patient and family through this difficult time.

Palliative care is provided by an interdisciplinary team consisting of physicians, registered nurses, nursing assistants, psychologists, social workers, spiritual priests, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, complementary therapists, volunteers and, most importantly, the family. The team’s focus is to optimise the patient’s comfort.