Palliative care approach

The palliative care approach has been defined by the World Health Organisation as one that ‘improves the quality of life of patients and their families who are facing problems associated with life-threatening illness’ by preventing and relieving suffering, ‘whether physical, psychosocial or spiritual’12.

It involves a holistic assessment of a patient’s needs and can be structured under a number of headings10:

  1. Communication skills
  2. Patient wishes
  3. Emotional care
  4. Spiritual care
  5. Symptom management
  6. Continuing care
  7. Legal responsibilities
  8. Post-bereavement care

These elements are often represented as interlocking pieces of a jigsaw, with each of equal importance, and are outlined below. Importantly, symptom management is only one element within this framework.