Palliative Care

When someone will not get better…

Not all illness is treatable. Should that become your experience there is help at hand.

Palliative care is the technical term for the treatment of those with a terminal illness from which there is no hope of recovery. It treats or manages pain and also responds to their psychological, social and spiritual needs with the aim to provide the best quality of life.

The World Health Organisation defines palliative care as that which – of 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 and includes those investigations needed to better understand and manage distressing clinical complications
  • The Hospice movement

    Hospice UK is the national charity for hospice care, championing and supporting the work of more than 200 member organisations, which provide hospice care across the UK.

    Hospice UK’s aim ‘is to make sure that every child and adult with a life-limiting or terminal condition gets the very best care, no matter who they are, where they are or why they are ill, and we believe hospices are critical to achieving this.’

  • End of life care

    People are considered to need ‘end of life care’ when they are deemed likely to die within the next 12 months. This includes those whose death is imminent, as well as people who:

    • have an advanced incurable illness such as cancer, dementia or motor neurone disease
    • are generally frail and have co-existing conditions that mean they are expected to die within 12 months
    • have existing conditions meaning they may die from a sudden crisis in their condition
    • have a life-threatening acute condition caused by a sudden catastrophic event, such as an accident or stroke

    The ‘end of life’ guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) cover how to manage common symptoms, and dignity and respect for the dying person and their relatives and carers.

  • Assisted suicide

    There have been persistent efforts in the UK to make it legal for someone to choose to end their life before its natural end. This is an incredibly sensitive subject and for some people it may seem a desirable option.

    However, there are many moral and ethical difficulties. Disability charities, most doctors and the majority of Christians believe life is precious and legalising any form of euthanasia would be a perilous step to take.

    The British Medical Association has refused to support assisted suicide. This is because it would put medical professionals who have been trained to ‘do no harm’ in a very difficult position. They also argue that the Hospice movement and advances in palliative medicine and care mean nobody need die in pain and fear.

    The booklet, ‘Live and Let Live’ by Dr Peter Saunders explores the issue. See it at For a free hard copy contact

    For a Christian study resource for small groups on this issue by Dr John Wyatt go to

The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years

Rick Warren, PurposeDrivenLife