Frequently Asked Questions

What is the definition of palliative care?

The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association defines it as “care aimed at the relief of suffering and improving the quality of life for persons who are living with or dying from advanced illness or are bereaved”.

What is palliative Care?

WHO Definition of Palliative Care

Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual. Palliative care:

  • provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms;
  • affirms life and regards dying as a normal process;
  • intends neither to hasten or postpone death;
  • integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care;
  • offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death;
  • offers a support system to help the family cope during the patients illness and in their own bereavement;
  • uses a team approach to address the needs of patients and their families, including bereavement counseling, if indicated;
  • will enhance quality of life, and may also positively influence the course of illness;
  • is applicable early in the course of illness, in conjunction with other therapies that are intended to prolong life, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, and includes those investigations needed to better understand and manage distressing clinical complications.

WHO Definition of Palliative Care for Children

Palliative care for children represents a special, albeit closely related field to adult palliative care. WHO’s definition of palliative care appropriate for children and their families is as follows; the principles apply to other pediatric chronic disorders (WHO; 1998a):

  • Palliative care for children is the active total care of the child's body, mind and spirit, and also involves giving support to the family.
  • It begins when illness is diagnosed, and continues regardless of whether or not a child receives treatment directed at the disease.
  • Health providers must evaluate and alleviate a child's physical, psychological, and social distress.
  • Effective palliative care requires a broad multidisciplinary approach that includes the family and makes use of available community resources; it can be successfully implemented even if resources are limited.
  • It can be provided in tertiary care facilities, in community health centres and even in children's homes.

*Above information obtained from the WHO website

Who benefits from palliative care?

Individuals and families living with life threatening illness benefit from palliative care. While most people relate palliative care to cancer, it can also help those suffering from many other diseases such as ALS. MS. advanced lung, heart or kidney disease.

It is a myth that palliative care is only for people who are in their final days. Highly skilled palliative teams require time to provide quality care. Pain and symptom manage may be required long before the person is actively dying. Patients and their loved ones can benefit from the support, information and care that the team has to offer throughout the dying process.

Seeking palliative care does not mean giving up hope.

Where do people receive palliative care?

Palliative care can be provided in a variety of settings such as at home, hospitals, dedicated palliative care units and in long term care facilities. Care will depend on the choice and needs of persons along with the services available in the area. 

What are some of the services?

Palliative care services will vary through out the province, here are some examples:

  • A team of caring professionals
  • Expert medical care to help with pain and symptom management.
  • Nursing care
  • Emotional support for the person/families or caregiver  
  • Spiritual support  
  • Volunteer visiting
  • Bereavement support

How can I find out about palliative care services in my area?

You can find out about Palliative care services in your area in a number of ways:

  • Speak to your Family Physician.
  • Contact you local Health Care Authority.
  • Contact the local Community Health Nurse.
  • Visit the links on the NLPCA website.
  • Contact the NLPCA by calling…709-752-8738
  • Calling  Newfoundland Health Line 1-888-709-2929