What is palliative care about?

Prof Dr Wim J.A. van den Heuvel, Chairman of International Editorial Board of PALIAŢIA

In various European countries national taskforces are created and national programmes have been develop to stimulate palliative care and to make it an integrated part of the health care system. This means not only the recognition of end-of-life or palliative care facilities with specialised, multidisciplinary teams. Palliative care expertise is also needed in primary health care, nursing homes and acute hospitals. Or to put it differently, palliative care is a regular service available for patients and families, who it needs. It is more ……

In this issue of PALIATIA each article shows that palliative care is more. It is not only about care, it is also education, companionship, communication, trust. And it applies to a range of patients with various diseases. It is not only about cancer; it is also about diabetes, dementia, heart failure …. It is not only about old people, it is about young people and children, mothers and fathers, poor and rich …..

Palliative care is complicated and to assure quality it needs various disciplines and a good team, it needs protocols and guidelines, and it needs training and continuous education.

In the report ‘Ambitions for Palliative and End of Life Care’ (see also News in this issue) 6 ambitions are formulated, which indicate that palliative care is about living and dying of members of our society.

Palliative care is about:
1. Each person is seen as an individual
2. Each person gets fair access to care
3. Maximising comfort and wellbeing
4. Care is coordinated
5. All staff are prepared to care
6. Each community is prepared to help

Hopefully, national taskforces and programmes are able to realise such palliative care, available for each individual, who needs it. In the UK this ambition should be reach in 2020 (?).

How far are we today?

And what do we have to do tomorrow?