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HealthInfo Canterbury

What is palliative care?

When someone has an advanced disease that limits how much longer they will live, treatment can do a lot to prevent suffering, relieve their symptoms, and improve the quality of their life. This is called palliative care.

Some people may receive palliative care for several months, others may receive it for a few weeks. Whatever the time frame, palliative care aims to help that person have the best quality of life possible.

Sometimes palliative care is described as holistic care. This means it considers all the issues that affect someone, rather than focusing on a just a single part of their treatment or life.

Palliative care involves caring for the whole person, and looking after their physical, emotional, psychological, social, cultural, and spiritual needs. It also involves caring for and helping their loved ones and carers.

On the next page: Who provides palliative care?

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by Canterbury DHB and community palliative care specialists. Page created May 2017.

Page reference: 35395

Review key: HIPAL-17434