31st October 2023
Palliative Care an Evidenced-Based Best Practice Approach
We know that evidence-based palliative care improves the quality of life for people, families and friends facing a life-limiting illness. This can be an extremely emotional and daunting situation that is filled with fear and anxiety for the person and their family. With appropriate and meaningful palliative care, a person can be supported to live their best life until their death.
Individually tailored assessments are key to the quality of life expectancy. This entails pain management and personal care that is culturally sensitive and spiritually, emotionally and socially supportive. All these elements are designed in and around the assessment process and should be developed in consultation with the person, their family and their partners in care.
The person may have an Advanced Care Directive (ACD) in place where they have actively planned for their future care. This ACD documents their decisions about the care they want to have when they require palliative care and who they would like to be involved with at that time. This may also include the people they trust to make their decisions when they are no longer able to do that for themselves.
Codesign Considerations Include;
Addressing Need: By engaging with consumers, their families and caregivers in the codesign process, we can better understand their needs, preferences, and expectations for palliative care. This can lead to more personalised care that focuses on the specific needs of each consumer.
Collaborative Care: Codesign can promote the collaboration of healthcare professionals, consumers and their families in decision-making regarding the care directive, which can lead to better communication and engagement , increased trust, and improved quality of care.
Improving Access and Delivery of Palliative Care: Codesign can help identify barriers to accessing appropriate palliative care and work to address specific consumer needs.
Enhancing Patient/Caregiver Experience: Palliative care often involves a complex emotional journey for both consumers, their families and their caregivers. Codesign can help us to identify aspects of the care experience that are most valuable to consumers, which will lead to an enhanced experience and ensure their overall well-being.
Emphasising Continuity of Care: By considering the full trajectory of a consumer’s frailty and/or illness and the consumer’s unique situation, codesign can help create a comprehensive advanced care plan directive that addresses both physical, spiritual and emotional needs. This can lead to a smoother transition from active treatment to palliative care and improve the quality of life for consumers.
In summary, best evidence-based practice palliation refers to a comfortable, peaceful, and dignified death for terminally ill consumers. It is a pathway that is free from physical and emotional distress, with carers providing support and care that address the consumer’s and family’s needs and one where the consumer feels in control of their final moments and is surrounded by their loved ones if they choose.
It also involves appropriate complex care management, clear communication, and respect for the consumers’ cultural and spiritual beliefs. Palliative care should be focused on ensuring quality of life until the end of life.
The theme for National Palliative Care Week this year is ‘Matter of Life and Death’, which provides an opportunity to reflect on the value of an evidence-based palliative care approach for older people.