Palliative Care - How does it help?

Authored by Dr Jacqueline Payne, 04 Jul 2017

Patient is a certified member of
The Information Standard

Reviewed by:
Dr Helen Huins, 04 Jul 2017

There are many different issues that palliative care can provide help with:


  • People have lots of reasons to need emotional support when told they have a life-threatening illness. Counselling may help them to adjust and cope with the effect of their disease and its treatment.
  • Support may also be needed to help someone adjust back to normal after treatment - worries about recurrence and the future are common.
  • Help may include one-to-one counselling, support groups, stress management and relaxation courses.


  • It can be really difficult to talk openly to family and friends about feelings and thoughts about the future. An experienced professional can help both the patient and family and friends, by listening and advising.
  • Help can be particularly needed when talking to children about illness.

Symptoms of disease and side-effects of treatment

This is the area that palliative care has traditionally been very good at.

Sex life

  • Sexual problems are common. This may be due to the disease itself or to the treatments. Tiredness, depression and anxiety may also play a part.
  • A desire for a woman to keep her fertility may also be important.


  • Many people who are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness are of working age.
  • Professional advice may help someone to keep in work or to return to work once fit enough.

Dietary advice

  • Losing weight and not having an appetite are common effects of both illness and treatment.
  • A dietician can be an important source of advice.


  • This can get complicated; airlines may insist on a 'fitness to travel' certificate and travel insurance may be difficult to obtain.
  • You may need advice on what to do if you become ill in a foreign country.
  • Some medicines can't be taken into other countries.
  • These are all issues that can be addressed by a provider of palliative care.

Mortgages, pension, loans and insurance

  • Getting a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness can have a significant impact on finances.
  • Many palliative care services will be able to offer advice on financial matters, whether it is helping to fill out claim forms or referring someone on for expert advice.

Financial support

Being unable to work, whether temporarily or permanently, can have a catastrophic effect on personal finances. There may be benefits that you are entitled to or charitable grants that you can get help to claim.

Soul needs

  • For people who have a religious belief, talking to a faith minister will be important.
  • Many people, however, don't have a religious belief but that doesn't mean that questions won't arise about what death means and the meaning of life. Palliative care givers won't have all of the answers but they will have the ability to listen well.

Further reading and references

My mum had a fall in her bungalow about 6 weeks ago and has been given the go ahead to go home after being in hospital with a broken hip, but i don't feel certain that it wont happen again. The nurse...

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