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The role of specialist palliative care 

The role of specialist palliative care
The role of specialist palliative care

Nicola Holtom

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date: 21 January 2021

Specialist palliative care is defined as the active holistic care of patients with advanced life threatening disease. It includes supporting the patient as they cope with the loss of health and adjustment to the fact that they have life threatening disease. Symptom management should be provided within a holistic framework as symptoms are rarely purely physical or psychological. Intractable symptoms inevitably impact on the mood and emotional well-being of patients and their carers. An understanding of these interactions and provision of patient-centred holistic care is fundamental to specialist palliative care. Although the supportive and palliative care guidelines states that palliative care may be applicable early in the course of the illness together with disease specific treatments, it would not be standard practice for patients having radical treatment to be referred to specialist palliative care. This case highlights the importance of specialist palliative care input for patients who are being treated with curative intent but are struggling with inordinate symptom burden or psychological distress.

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