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What is palliative care?

The word “palliative” is derived from the Latin pallium, a cloak or cover, and implies a form of care that:

The aim therefore of Palliative Care is to maximise the quality of the person's life. This is achieved by delivering and co-ordinating a range of services in response to the individual needs of the patient/family/whānau.

The goal of Palliative Care is to work alongside patients to facilitate the achieving and maintaining of maximum physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, vocational, cultural and social potentials, however limited they may be as a result of disease progression.

Palliative Care recognises dying as a normal process and aims to neither hasten nor postpone death.

The Palliative Care approach should be an integral part of all clinical practice.

Palliative care is provided by all health professionals and should be available wherever the patient is (be that in a community setting or an acute hospital) and delivered in a timely way throughout the course of a life limiting illness. A Specialist Palliative Care assessment should be available on the basis of assessed need rather than simply diagnosis or prognosis.

Specialist Palliative Care is provided through accredited services by practitioners that work exclusively in the field of palliative care. It builds on the palliative care provided by generalists and/or the “primary clinical team” and reflects a higher level of expertise in complex symptom management, psychosocial support, grief and bereavement.

Palliative care is best delivered through an integrated approach and recognises the roles and responsibilities of both palliative care generalists and specialists1.

1 New Zealand Palliative Care: A Working Definition (26.2.07)

See the Resource and Capability Framework for Integrated Adult Palliative Care Services in New Zealand.

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Topic Code: 11339