It is almost impossible for a health care professional to avoid being called upon to care for people getting frailer as life ebbs away, to care for them at their dying and to have to help and support their loved ones afterwards.
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Who can be insensitive to their pain, their breathlessness, their weakness and their fears? Who can forget how helpless they have felt at these times, how lost for words, how unskilled and unprepared. Doctors and nurses, whether generalist or specialist, can no more avoid these professional and personal challenges than they can deny or avoid death itself. Palliative care – “the care of patients with active, progressive, advanced disease where the prognosis is short and the focus of care is the quality of life” – is a basic human right, not a luxury for the few. Its principles are not peculiar to the care of the dying but are the integral features of all good clinical care – freedom from pain and the alleviation so far as is possible, of all physical, psychosocial and spiritual suffering; the preservation of dignity; the utmost respect for honesty in all our dealings with these patients and their relatives.
The emergence in 1987 of palliative care as a medical sub-specialty (mentioned in the Preface to the first edition of this book – Medical PDF Free: ABC of Palliative Care 2nd Edition PDF ) has brought about improvements in care, research, professional education and training, and in the understanding by the public and the politicians of what needs to be done and what can be done for those at the loneliest time on their life journey. It has also had a downside. Many have come to suspect that providing palliative care requires unique people to do justice to this demanding work, unique skills to do it well, and more time than today’s doctors and nurses ever have. So easy is it to phone a palliative care specialist whether working in a hospital, a specialist unit or in the community, and get advice or an admission that some are leaving the palliative care of their patients to them. In fact only about 10% of terminally ill patients have problems so rare or so complex that specialist expertise is needed. All the others can be cared for by non-specialists if they learn the principles of palliative care, if they develop the right attitude to it, if they are willing to share themselves as well as their therapeutic skills… and if they study this book – Medical PDF Free: ABC of Palliative Care 2nd Edition PDF . One thing is undeniable – no-one is born with a built-in ability to provide excellent care. It has to be learnt from a book such as this, and hopefully from watching others with more experience, but that is a luxury some never have. In situations where too often the knee-jerk response can be “there is no more we can do”, the reader will find that there is always a means of helping and of caring.
Medical PDF Free: ABC of Palliative Care 2nd Edition PDF