No, most people aren’t in severe pain when they die
Article by Kathy Eagar, Sabina Clapham and Samuel Allingham for the Conversation
Many people fear death partly because of the perception they might suffer increasing pain and other awful symptoms the nearer it gets. There’s often the belief palliative care may not alleviate such pain, leaving many people to die excruciating deaths.
But an excruciating death is extremely rare. The evidence about palliative care is that pain and other symptoms, such as fatigue, insomnia and breathing issues, actually improve as people move closer to death. More than 85% of palliative care patients have no severe symptoms by the time they die.
Evidence from the Australian Palliative Care Outcomes Collaboration (PCOC) shows that there has been a statistically significant improvement over the last decade in pain and other end-of-life symptoms. Several factors linked to more effective palliative care are responsible. [read more]
Calvary launches the new Palliative and
End of life Care Research Institute
A new palliative and end of life care research institute launched on 30th November by Little Company of Mary Health Care will profile the important research being undertaken in the field of Palliative and End of Life Care at four leading specialist palliative care services across Calvary.
In launching the Institute Professor Lobb highlights a growing body of research conducted through the Calvary network of palliative care services on managing symptoms such as pain, nausea, breathing and delirium. There is also psychosocial research to investigate the experiences of patients, their families and friends during death and afterwards through their experience of grief. “Much of this innovative and ground breaking research has been initiated by palliative care clinicians here in Australia, and is changing palliative care practice around the world” Professor Lobb said. [read more]
It’s not all about death: conversations with patients in palliative care
Article by Matthew Grant for the conversation
When I introduce myself to a patient as a palliative care doctor, the question that often follows is: “Am I dying?”
I guess in one sense we’re all dying. In this case, though, the question implies an immediacy. Yet working in palliative care involves surprisingly little immediate dying.
Yes we work with people who have incurable illnesses, but their prognoses vary between weeks, months and even years. And we see other patients potentially being cured but who experience significant side effects from treatment.
Our team works in clinics, in the hospital, out in the community, at the chemotherapy centre, and in our palliative care or hospice units.
Here is a snapshot of the conversations I have in a working day, and they involve discussions of life far more than they do death. [read more]
LGBTQ at the End-of-Life: Needs and Challenges
Article by Vivian Lam for Pallimed
Holistic care is essential in the mission to fully meet a patient's needs. And a holistic perspective is the backbone of end of life and palliative care--it's the basis of having an interprofessional team that acknowledges that quality of life is multifaceted, and lives are diverse. But getting to know a patient enough to be able to be "holistic" can be difficult. And in the case of LGBTQ individuals, getting to know the patient as a whole is not only all the more important—it’s integral. [read more]
What makes life worth living in the face of death
Lucy Kalanithi TEDMED Talk
Stanford internist Lucy Kalanithi is the widow of neurosurgeon and writer Paul Kalanithi, who was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer at age 36. In Lucy's 2016 TEDMED Talk, she shares the perspective their family gained during Paul's difficult transition from doctor to patient.