Palliative care is described as an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with chronic conditions. It is simply good care which looks at the individual as a whole and not only at the diagnosis.
Unfortunately, there are many common misunderstandings surrounding palliative care including the belief that it is only for people at the end of life. Sadly this has resulted in people with dementia missing out on the many things that good palliative care has to offer. Because dementia is a condition which can reduce life expectancy, a palliative approach to care is beneficial from the time of diagnosis. Using a palliative approach is regarded as the gold standard of care for people with dementia and is recommended by the World Health Organisation. This approach can be appropriate for many years and focuses on the quality of life of both the person living with dementia and their family.
A small part of palliative care is ensuring someone is well cared for at the end of life. Nightingale Nurses will use skills in palliative nursing care to identify and assess any symptoms whether they be physical, social, psychological or spiritual and make appropriate suggestions or referrals to specialist services for these symptoms to be managed.