If you receive a terminal diagnosis, it’s natural to have a lot of questions. It’s important to understand the types of care available and how receiving care can impact your quality of life. Our guide will explore some of the most common questions around palliative care to help you make the best decisions for yourself or loved ones.

What does palliative care mean?

Most simply defined, palliative care is professional support for people with terminal illnesses and their loved ones. It’s designed to promote your comfort and living standards using a holistic approach to support people with terminal illnesses.

Palliative care can take many forms, but its main purpose is to help you live life to the fullest by managing your pain and other distressing symptoms. Rather than simply focusing on the physical aspects of your illness, palliative care incorporates psychological, social and spiritual care for you and your loved ones. It could involve a caregiver supporting you to attend family events like football games and birthday parties, providing emotional assistance to your loved ones or helping you with your treatment plan.

You can receive palliative care at any stage of your illness, and many people receive palliative care from diagnosis. Receiving palliative care, or being told to find a palliative caregiver, doesn’t mean that doctors have given up on treating you. You can still receive medical treatment alongside palliative care. Some people get palliative care for months or even years before moving on to end-of-life care.

Find palliative care now

Do you or a loved one require palliative care? If you need care now, you can find care providers using Care Sourcer’s care comparison service.

Does palliative care mean death?

Palliative care is often confused with end-of-life care as there are many overlaps and similarities. However, end-of-life care is only one stage of palliative care. You shouldn’t think of palliative care as giving up or death, but rather as support so you can focus on what matters most.

Are hospice and palliative care the same?

Hospice care is only one, later stage of palliative care. Both forms of care share similarities, which can lead to some confusion. For example, both hospice and palliative care aim to reduce your pain and manage your illness so you’re comfortable.

However, hospice care and palliative care also differ. You’re only eligible for hospice care if you’ve been diagnosed with less than six months to live while you can receive palliative care at any stage of your illness. Another fundamental difference is that most people stop receiving treatment when they move into a hospice. But, with palliative care, you’ll still receive other medical care.

Who is eligible for palliative care?

You can receive palliative care at home for cancer, dementia or any other serious, long-lasting or life-threatening illness. Your care can start as soon as you receive a diagnosis, during treatment or at the later stages.

What is palliative care at home?

When you hire a palliative nurse or caregiver, they’ll start by asking you about your care goals. Maybe you want to explore your religious beliefs, talk about unresolved issues or simply overcome your pain so you can be more available for your family. They’ll take your existing treatment, spirituality, physical problems, emotional impacts and practicalities into consideration to reach a care plan that supports you and your loved ones.

Using a holistic approach, palliative caregivers will then work with you to reach these goals. Since everyone has different needs, palliative care is very flexible and can be adjusted to suit you.

Who provides palliative care at home?

Many people will be involved in your palliative care. As it uses a holistic approach, it can incorporate health and social care professionals like hospital doctors and nurses, general practitioners, community nurses, counsellors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, chaplains and carers.

How do I find a palliative care agency?

Palliative care is provided by regulated care agencies. These agencies employ carers who will visit your home to provide the care.

Here are the typical steps involved in arranging care if you are paying for it yourself:

  1. Search for palliative care agencies
  2. Contact the agencies to find out if they have availability and their prices. Care Sourcer offers a searchable directory of local care agencies. If you need care urgently, our team of care experts are also available by telephone to guide you through the process.
  3. Arrange a care assessment with the agency or agencies you like
  4. After the assessment, agree the start date of care

What does palliative care do?

Palliative care mainly aims to improve your quality of life and help you live it to the fullest. To achieve this goal, palliative care will:

  • Help you manage physical symptoms like pain
  • Provide emotional, spiritual or psychological support
  • Support you with daily practicalities like house cleaning, eating or getting dressed
  • Help your loved ones to cope

What is end of life care?

As your illness progresses, you may require different types of palliative care. Palliative end-of-life care, the later stages of palliative care, typically starts when you receive a diagnosis of twelve months or less.

Like the early stages of palliative care, you’ll still receive emotional, spiritual and physical support. Your family and friends will also receive emotional support and professionals will talk to them about what to expect towards the end of your life. You can even get practical support with things like making a will or tying up any loose ends.

You may reach the point, normally during the last six months, when you’ll elect to stop treatment. Palliative caregivers will help you ease off any medications and manage any side effects or pain to make sure your last days are as comfortable as possible.

How much does palliative care cost?

The cost of palliative care varies depending on the complexity of your needs. Some people may require more support than others so providing an exact estimate is difficult. For a better idea of the expected costs, it’s best to speak with one of our dedicated care consultants by calling 0800 048 8618.

Funding palliative care at home

Paying for palliative care when you’re unable to work can be stressful. However, depending on your financial situation, you may qualify for benefits like the Employment Support Allowance (ESA), Statutory Sick Pay or Carer’s Allowance (for caregivers). Some charities, like Marie Curie or Sue Ryder, also provide financial and practical support.

We recommend speaking to Citizen’s Advice to find out more about your financial options.

Making palliative care arrangements

When it comes to making arranging palliative care, we know you may need to quickly and easily find a caregiver. You can search for palliative care using Care Sourcer’s searchable directory of local care agencies or call our friendly UK-based care experts today on 0800 048 8618 with any questions you have about finding care.