Philosophy and Principles of Palliative Care
As defined by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) in 2002, 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 physical symptoms, together with psychosocial and spiritual problems.’ The raison d’etre of Hospice Malta is guided by the philosophy and principles of palliative care as expounded by the WHO. These include the provision of palliative care which is intended to:
- provide relief from pain and other distressing symptoms
- affirm life and regards dying as a normal process
- neither to hasten or postpone death
- integrate the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care
- offer a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death
- offer a support system to help the family cope during the patients illness and in their own bereavement
- use a team approach to address the needs of patients and their families, including bereavement counselling, if indicated
- enhance quality of life, and may also positively influence the course of illness
- be 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.
The application of such principles in practice calls for an investigation of all the possible clinical pathways with an analysis focusing on the patient and the various needs he/she will encounter, it being at an in-patient or community level.