What is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is care for people of all ages with a life-limiting illness, to support and help the person live as comfortably and fully as possible. A life-limiting illness is one that cannot be cured and may at some time result in the person dying, be that years, months, weeks or days away. For example: lung, heart, nerve or kidney diseases that get progressively more troublesome despite everything; cancers that can’t be cured but might still be responsive to drugs or radiation.
A palliative care approach aims to improve a person’s quality of life by addressing the person’s cultural, social, psychological and spiritual needs as well as physical needs such as managing pain and other distressing symptoms. It aims to support and comfort the individual’s family whanau, and other caregivers where needed, through the illness and after death.
When is Palliative Care Helpful?
Palliative care helps at all stages of life-limiting illness. It is often best introduced early on – sometimes even at the point it first becomes clear what is wrong. It can be helpful at any time, even when someone is having intensive treatments, for instance chemotherapy for cancer or renal dialysis for kidney failure. In other words, palliative care could be there to provide support, help and comfort at those times when illness is causing major problems or distress.
Palliative care is provided according to an individual’s need, and may be suitable whether death is days, weeks, months or years away,
Who Provides Palliative Care?
It is provided by all healthcare professionals, supported where necessary, by specialist palliative care services. General practitioners and District Nurses all have knowledge of, and ability to provide, palliative care. Hospices are the main providers of specialist palliative care services for people living in the community and who are not inpatients in a public hospital.
Where is Palliative Care Provided?
It aims to be available wherever the person may be - in the community in an outpatient setting or at home. Care may also be provided by the hospice or by a member of the hospital palliative care team when you are in the hospital.
What Services are Available through Hospice?
Mary Potter Hospice is a community-based service, providing specialist palliative care services to the people of Wellington, Porirua and Kapiti. Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients, and their whānau, facing problems associated with life threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.
The service is free to all patients accepted, and receiving, the service.
There are four teams: multidisciplinary community teams in Wellington, Porirua and Kapiti, and an inpatient unity in Wellington.
The hospice teams work closely with Primary Health Organisations, District Nurses, and other community based services.
Care is available in people’s homes, residential facilities, day unit, outpatient clinics, and as an inpatient at the hospice.
How Can Palliative Care Help When you are in Hospital?
The hospital palliative care team can often help out and offer you and your family support, relief, comfort, information, choice and expertise in many different situations. These might include:
- times when your illness is causing discomfort, for example bothersome pain or shortness of breath, or nausea and vomiting. We may be able to help ease these symptoms and improve your comfort.
- periods when your thoughts and feelings are distressing. Having someone to help you talk through and address these things can often make a major difference.
- occasions when your illness may be having a big impact elsewhere in your life – maybe with your partner, children, whanau, work or perhaps financial affairs. Professional support and advice in these situations can often help you find solutions and resolve some of your concerns.
- you may also be faced with decisions and choices that are confusing or difficult to make during your illness. The palliative care team may be able to help explain things to you, and help you find answers that you feel most comfortable with.
- on leaving hospital you may need ongoing support and care. The palliative care team is often able to link in with the right services for you.
We also recognise that sometimes nature is stronger than any medical treatments we have on offer. When this happens and death is close, it is extremely important that you get the care in hospital that will support you and your family and whanau, meet your wishes and needs, and also keep you comfortable. The palliative care team may be involved in your care during these times too.
Who are the Hospital Palliative Care Team?
Our team consists of specially trained nurses and specialist doctors. We work together with the specialist who is in charge of your care and his or her team. That means we do not take over your care. Instead we work alongside both you and your primary hospital team during your stay in hospital.
Dr Jonathan Adler, Consultant and Clinical Leader
Dr Anne MacLennan, Consultant
Alison Rowe, Nurse Practitioner Candidate,
Jude Pickthorne, Clinical Nurse Specialist
Janice Tijsen, Clinical Nurse Specialist
Barbara Eddy, Administrator
Who are the Mary Potter Hospice Community Palliative Care Team?
Dr Brian Ensor, Director of Palliative Care
Dr Susan Hamilton, Liaison Consultant in Palliative Care
Dr Janet Turnbull, Consultant in Palliative Care