Care and compassion in palliative care
Palliative care is based upon a truly holistic concept of the individual. Whilst treatment of a patient’s physical symptoms is a key element in maximising his or her quality of life so too is recognition of the impact of psychological, social and spiritual concerns. This holistic approach is not limited to patients but must and does encompass the care of those individuals significant to them – family and friends – who are also affected by the experience of living with a life-threatening illness.
Effective palliative care is founded upon compassion informed by recognition of a person’s individuality expressed through a desire to maximise his or her quality of life. This is achieved through open and sensitive communication across the span of a patient’s experience with a life-threatening illness.
This begins at the point of diagnosis. Here the palliative care practitioner will assist the person to make sense of the life changing news and seek to explore with them their fears, concerns and, when ready, provide them with the information they require to deal with their condition in the ways they deem appropriate. Palliative care, with its emphasis on open communication, holism and the support of individuals important in the life of the patient, is also present alongside treatments which may seek to halt or cure a disease.
Whilst it is invaluable at the end of a person’s life in palliating what might be some of the distressing physical symptoms or psychological and spiritual concerns of the patient and relatives, it is also essential that it continue beyond the patient’s death to the care of friends and relatives in the period of their bereavement.
Palliative care is provided in a diverse range of care settings: in the patient’s own home or the home of family members or friends, in residential and nursing homes, on busy wards of acute general hospitals as well as in hospices and specialist palliative care units. Whatever the setting in which it occurs truly effective palliative care can only be provided if it is based upon compassion and a true regard for the dignity of the individual.
To enhance the delivery of holistic, person-centred, evidence-based palliative care across all care settings, De Montfort University and The Leicestershire and Rutland Hospice (LOROS) have established a Centre for the Promotion of Excellence in Palliative Care (CPEP). This has a base in Edith Murphy House on the main De Montfort University campus. The purpose of the Centre is to undertake research in palliative and end of life care; to promote good practice in palliative care education and to raise the profile of the importance of palliative and end of life care amongst the wider community, both locally and nationally.
This initiative recognises the importance of palliative care and the positive impacts which will arise from combining the expertise of a well established independent hospice charity having a strong reputation for the provision of palliative care services with a university committed to the enhancement of the skills and knowledge of practitioners across the range of health and social care settings.
CPEP was launched nationally at the House of Commons on 20 March 2012 with local MP Liz Kendall hosting the event. The local launch in Leicester followed on 15th May 2012