What Do We Mean by Palliative Care?

Authored by: Catherine Walshe

Handbook of Nutrition and Diet in Palliative Care

Print publication date:  July  2019
Online publication date:  July  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138064072
eBook ISBN: 9781315160627
Adobe ISBN:


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It is important to define what we mean by palliative care to ensure that our understanding of the term is shared, and to enable future developments. Defining palliative care is not straightforward, as the terms used have changed over time, are value laden, and are difficult to explain clearly because of their breadth of use. However, many definitions of palliative care and its associated terms have been developed. A number of definitions of palliative care, supportive care, terminal care and end-of-life care are presented. While no two definitions are the same, it is clear that they share many core concepts: a definition of the core patient population; a discussion of the timing of the introduction of palliative care; an emphasis on holistic care; a focus on patients, families and informal carers; and the deployment of a multi-disciplinary or multi-professional approach to care. These features are discussed, and their influence on the way that palliative care is provided is explained.

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