Palliative care means that time is up
People, patients and healthcare professionals do not want to talk about death
Patients don't want to die in hospital
Palliative care is not giving up, doing nothing, or resigning oneself to death. Palliative care is not just for when a person is close to death, but can be given earlier, even from diagnosis. It can be a change in focus, or exist in parallel with disease-targeted treatments. It can offer assistance in management decisions, symptom control, psychological support and practical issues, and help patients to understand their illness better. It is relevant to all conditions from which a patient may die in the foreseeable future, not just to those with cancer diagnoses. It is about making the absolute most of living when time is limited. In some cases, early palliative care input can even offer a survival benefit.
Confronting one's own mortality can be difficult. However, when supported, many people do want to talk about death. There is evidence that disclosing a diagnosis of a terminal illness will help patients to feel more empowered about care and decision making, rather than diminish their hope.
Preferred place of death varies among patients. Many patients do want to be at home, but there are some who want to be in hospital when they die. Faced with the reality, people often only realise that death is close once they or a loved one is in hospital, and they often choose to stay when offered alternatives. 74% of respondents in the National Survey of Bereaved People felt that hospital was the right place for the patient to die, despite only 3% of respondents stating that patients wanted to die in hospital. Death at home can provide familiarity, dignity and comfort in some cases, but it can also create anxiety and challenges depending on what community resources are available.