Nurses and doctors along with trained volunteer assisted with
“ 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 problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual. ”
(World Health Organization 2002 / Appendix 1)
Palliative care for children represents a special, albeit closely related field to adult palliative care. WHO’s definition of palliative care appropriate for children and their families is as follows; the principles apply to other paediatric chronic disorders (WHO; 1998a):
In fact Hospice care or palliative care is just good medical care which can be offered early in the course of illness (cancer or non-cancer), in conjunction with other therapies where the aims are to cure or control the illness.
The need for holistic or whole person medical care often arises in the course of many diseases, for instance cancer. Annually about 40,000 people in Malaysia are found to have cancer where up to 60% have advanced, often incurable cancer. Many others have chronic life limiting diseases of the heart, lung, kidney or nervous system. For children it can be congenital or chronic disorders.
Both group of patients will have similar problems – physical, psychological, social or spiritual – that are distressing and diminishes their quality of life. These problems can be addressed and reduced.
It may be ironic that along with the increasing life span of humans globally there is also a growing need for care, especially long term care. Current models of care delivery have to change to deal with this challenge.