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Palliative care is an holistic approach to medicine that seeks to improve the quality of life of patients and their families, when they are faced with the daunting challenges associated with life-threatening illnesses. Palliative care emphasises the prevention and relief of suffering through early detection, and on the impeccable assessment and treatment of pain, whether it be physical, psychosocial or spiritual.
Some of the distinguishing characteristics of Palliative care include:
• Providing relief from pain and additional distressing symptoms.
• Affirming life and regarding death to be a normal process.
• Integrating the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care.
• Offering a support network to assist families to cope during the period of illness, and with their subsequent bereavement.
• Enhancing the quality of life, which might then also influence the course of the illness in a positive way.