In this essay I shall firstly give a description of what palliative care is. I will discuss the modern hospice and the history of care provided in early hospices. Secondly I shall review the care that people with incurable diseases receive. In order to do this, I will gather evidence from course materials and other literature to examine the expanding hospice movement, and look at the arguments for and against the expansion of palliative care being made available to all dying people.
Palliative care originates from the modern hospice movement (Field and Addington-Hall, 1999) and is care that is given to people who have an incurable disease or illness. It is the total care of patients whose disease no longer responds to curative treatment (Workbook 2, p10). Palliative care promotes both physical and psychological care of patients with life threatening illnesses and when a patient is at this stage in their lives, palliative care is introduced to provide a pain free and comfortable death.
There are two types of palliative care; they are 'Special palliative care' and 'the palliative care approach' known as general palliative care. Specialist palliative care is defined as "care provided by health professionals who specialise in palliative care and work within a multi-professional specialist care team" (NCHSPC, 2001). The palliative care approach is defined as "care provided by the patient and family's usual professional carers as a vital and integral part of their routine clinical care" (NCHSPCS, 2001). The palliative care approach has derived from special palliative care and can be seen being practiced in nursing homes, residential settings and in hospitals. However, for a person to practice special palliative care they need to be qualified within this field which is why it is normally only practiced in hospices where the staff have a very good knowledge of the related disease.
Years ago hospices provided comfort and kindness to many people; the very first hospice in Ireland was opened by Christian nuns in 1900 (The Hospice Movement), these kinds of hospices provided dedicated nursing care for the terminally ill. In1967 Dame Cicely Saunders opened St Christopher's Hospice (Workbook 2, p11) which was the first modern hospice and therefore was committed to education and research in cancer, as well as excellence in clinical care (St Christopher's). Since then the modern hospice movement has expanded a great deal and provides care, not only to adults dying from cancer but also to children and people dying from other incurable diseases.
Initially, palliative care only focused on the care of patients who were dying from cancer, but today it has extended to include patients who have been diagnosed at an earlier stage in the disease (Field and Addington-Hall, 1999). In Britain palliative care is being promoted as a right for all dying people and is considering the needs of many people with numerous diseases. The hospice movement (Web-site)...