Policy and politics: Why care for the terminally ill needs to be a higher priority

When somebody becomes terminally ill and begins to approach the end of their life, they are likely to need various forms of care and help. They may also have aspirations and hopes for the time they have left. It can be a traumatic, challenging and complex time, but equally some people say they experience moments of great joy, often by being able to make the most of the time they have left.

To enable someone to live as well as possible for as long as possible they will need help with the relief of their physical symptoms and pain, but also support with emotional and spiritual needs. This will help them plan and give them the best chance of realising their wishes. To enable this to happen a number of people might have to be involved, including health and social care professionals, family members, and friends. We call this a palliative care approach.

Palliative care can support a person with any terminal illness and should begin from the point when they need it. For some that will be years from their death, but for others only weeks, days or even hours. We only have one chance to get this right, and either way it will make a lasting impression on all those who are left behind.

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