Palliative care services

A palliative care nurse is a clinical nurse specialist who cares for people with advanced illness or who are dying. They are trained in pain and symptom control as well as giving emotional support to patients with a terminal illness and their carers. These nurses may work in hospitals, hospices and the community.

This may involve the palliative care service providing advice alongside the patient's own doctor and district nurse to enable someone to stay in their own home.

Many teams also provide extended specialist palliative nursing, medical, social and emotional support and care in the patient's home, otherwise known as 'Hospice at Home'.

Some of the key aims of palliative care, as defined by The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), are to:

  • Provide relief from pain and other distressing symptoms
  • Offer a support system to help the family cope during the patient's illness and with their bereavement
  • Integrate the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care
  • Offer a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until they die

Care from a palliative care nurse may be provided as a result of a referral by a GP, hospital team or district nurse.

Many palliative care nurses are called Macmillan nurses and you can learn more about them on this page on the Macmillan Cancer Support website.

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