A quick Q&A to explain the basics about palliative care


Coming to terms with the fact that you or a family member has a life-threatening disease can be incredibly difficult to deal with, and generally leaves you and your family feeling completely overwhelmed by the situation. This is where palliative care can make all the difference – for the patient and the family members around them. 

This multidisciplinary, specialised medical care is most commonly called on for life-threatening diseases such as AIDS and cancer. It aims at optimising the patient’s quality of life, as well as support their family members, at every stage of the illness.

Take this quick Q&A to better understand what palliative care is all about:

  • Who needs palliative care?

Care begins when a life-threatening disease is diagnosed and continues regardless of whether treatment, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or any other treatment directed at the disease, is received or not.

  • Where is palliative care given?

Palliative care may be provided in healthcare facilities, community centres (such as hospice community centres) or at home. According to the Association of Palliative Care Centres (APCC), about 100 000 patients and their families receive hospice services every year, mostly in the comfort of their own homes. 

  • How does it help?

It includes the prevention and management of pain and other symptoms associated with a patient’s illness, as well as supporting a patient’s psychological and spiritual needs. A patient’s family is also supported with advice on how to provide care at home and through counselling, including bereavement support if a patient passes away.

  • Who can offer palliative care? 

Hospice programmes and palliative care teams in certain hospitals offer the needed care. Several specially trained healthcare providers can deliver palliative care, including medical doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, dietitians, pharmacists and social workers. Medical aids, such as Bestmed Medical Scheme, offers palliative care and home-based care in lieu of hospitalisation across all benefit options at 100% Scheme tariff.