Palliative care FAQsCath Davis
We answer some of the most commonly asked questions around palliative care from patients and their families.
Do I need to stop seeing my oncologist if I start to see a palliative care doctor?
No, palliative care is an extra layer of support and the palliative care doctor will work alongside your oncologist and any other involved healthcare practitioners such as your family GP. All your healthcare practitioners will communicate with each other, and will be included in the updates on your palliative care plan.
Do I need to stop receiving chemotherapy and radiotherapy if I start to see a palliative care doctor?
No, palliative care works alongside curative care. The World Health Organisation defines it as being “applicable early in the course of illness, in conjunction with other therapies that are intended to prolong life, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy”.
Research shows that palliative care can improve the quality of your life and help you feel more satisfied with the treatment you receive. You may start palliative care soon after learning you have advanced stage or metastatic* cancer and continue to receive this type of care through treatment and recovery.
* A metastatic cancer is one that has spread from the primary site of origin, or where it started, into different areas of the body.
What does the palliative care team do?
Palliative care is provided by a specially trained team of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals who work together with your involved doctors to provide an extra layer of support. The goal is to improve your quality of life.
To do this, the palliative care team will:
> Relieve your symptoms and distress
> Help you and your family to better understand your disease and diagnosis
> Help clarify your treatment goals and options
> Understand and support you and your family to cope with your illness
> Assist you with making medical decisions
> Coordinate your care with your other involved doctors
Will my insurance cover palliative care?
Most medical aids in South Africa will pay for costly in-hospital care but only offer limited or no benefits will not pay for home-based care. The few medical schemes that do offer access to palliative care typically offer very limited cover.
Medical schemes who have partnered with Alignd are able to offer comprehensive cover for their eligible members to receive meaningful palliative care as an extra layer of support from the moment of diagnosis of advanced stage cancer or metastatic cancer. The palliative care team work in collaboration with involved healthcare practitioners including the treating oncologist and the family GP. Ask your medical scheme about Alignd.Palliative.
Who else, besides the patient, can benefit from palliative care?
Everyone involved! Patients as well as their loved ones are the special focus of palliative care. Your treating healthcare professionals can benefit too, because they know they are meeting your needs by providing care and treatment that reduces your suffering and improves your quality of life.
When should I ask for palliative care?
You can have it at any age and any stage of an illness, but early in your illness is recommended. Recent cancer guidelines say that cancer patients should receive palliative care early and together with their other treatments. People who are newly diagnosed with advanced stage or metastatic cancer should receive a palliative care consult within eight weeks of their diagnosis.
How do I get palliative care?
Ask for it! You have to start by talking with your oncologist or your family GP.