- Palliative Care in NI
- Information & Services
Where can I access services?
Your GP or District Nurse is the best point of contact in the community setting. You may also be put in touch with specialist palliative care teams in both hospital and community settings.
Palliative and end of life care is an integral part of care delivered by health and social care professionals, as well as families and carers, to those living with and dying from any advanced, progressive and incurable condition. Staff with palliative care skills can help patients and their families and loved ones right throughout their illness.
Palliative and end of life care is often provided by a range of public, independent, community and voluntary sector organisations working together in partnership to provide integrated services
People will have different needs at different times and the care that they need will be tailored for them individually. Sometimes patients will only be cared for by their general practitioner and community staff. This is entirely appropriate. Sometimes patients have more complex needs – maybe coming to terms with their illness or through physical symptoms that are difficult to control – in these cases specialist palliative care practitioners will be asked to provide advice and care as required. Often a combination of these services provide a multi-disciplinary team approach which is drawn around the patient and their carers as individual need dictates.
General Palliative Care
General palliative and end of life care is delivered by multi-disciplinary teams in primary and community care settings, hospital units and wards. This is the level of care required by most people and is provided by non palliative and end of life care specialists including General Practitioners, District Nurses, Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) and Social Workers.
General palliative and end of life care is also provided by health and social care professionals who have expertise in particular health and social care fields, such as respiratory disease, heart failure, renal disease, neurological conditions and dementia. Experts within these conditions are pivotal in recognising when palliative and end of life care is needed.
Specialist Palliative Care
Specialist palliative and end of life care is the management of unresolved symptoms and more demanding care needs including complex psychosocial, end of life and bereavement issues. This is provided by specialist personnel with expert knowledge, skills and competences . It is delivered by specialist multi-disciplinary teams dedicated to palliative and end of life care. The responsibilities of specialist palliative care professionals will include the physical management of pain and other symptoms and the provision of psychological, social and spiritual support to individuals and their families.
Membership of specialist palliative care teams should include medical, nursing, pharmacists, allied health professionals as well as non-clinical members such as social work staff, chaplains, counsellors and volunteers. This will enable patients to achieve their optimum quality of life through holistic support and rehabilitation. Sharing knowledge and expertise across conditions with other specialist and generalist colleagues, including training and development opportunities, should be a central element to their role.
Specialist palliative care is provided in four main ways
Hospital – based services, where multi-disciplinary palliative care teams work with patients in wards and clinics;
Community teams, which provide specialist advice and work alongside a patient’s own GP practice teams enabling specialist care to be provided in the patient’s home or care home
Day care, which enables patients to continue living at home while having access to day facilities provided by a multi-disciplinary health and social care team.