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Palliative and End of Life Care Glossary

End of life

That part of life where a person is living with, and impaired by, an eventually fatal condition, even if the prognosis is ambiguous or unknown.

End of life care

End of life care combines the broad set of health and community services that care for the population at the end of their life.
Quality end of life care is realized when strong networks exist between specialist palliative care providers, primary generalist providers, primary specialists and support care providers and the community-working together to meet the needs of people requiring care.

Palliative care

Short definition:

Palliative care is specialist care provided for all people living with, and dying from an eventually fatal condition and for whom the primary goal is quality of life.

Full definition in accordance with the World Health Organization:

Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems 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 nor 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 patient’s illness and in their own bereavement;
  • uses a team approach to address the needs of patients and their families, including bereavement counselling, 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.

Palliative approach

A palliative approach is a term that has been used to describe care that aims to improve the quality of life for individuals with an eventually fatal condition, and their families, by reducing their suffering through early identification, assessment and treatment of pain, physical, psychological, social, cultural and spiritual needs.

Comfort care

Comfort Care is an essential part of medical care at the end of life. It is care that helps or soothes a person who is dying. The goal is to prevent or relieve suffering as much as possible while respecting the dying person’s wishes.

Palliative care can start anywhere from 3-6 months before someone reaches the end of life stage. Please keep in mind that palliative care does not necessarily mean comfort care or end of life care. There is still opportunity to provide the resident with a meaningful and fulfilling life until their very final days. Seven Oaks has the resources to provide support and comfort to all residents who are deemed palliative, even early on in the palliative stage. Please refer to the next pages to determine how members of the care team can provide the best quality care to our residents and their families. Note that there are various approaches to care. Some may be suitable for the resident and their family, while other approaches are not. During meetings with the family and resident, please determine if any of these resources are appropriate and send out a referral as soon as possible.

Material sourced with permission from The Comfort Care Basket Program, Seven Oaks Long Term Care Centre, Toronto, ON

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