Palliative care is sometimes called supportive care. It is usually offered to people who have a life-limiting illness.
What is palliative care?
- Palliative care is sometimes called supportive care. It is usually offered to people who have a life-limiting illness. A life-limiting illness is one that will shorten a person’s life. But it may still mean that they continue to live an active life for many years.
- Palliative care is available when you first learn that you have advanced prostate cancer.
- You can still have treatments that help to control your prostate cancer, e.g. chemotherapy, radium-223.
Important things to know
Why would I want palliative care?
The aim of palliative care is to help you to live well with your cancer. Palliative care is all about you and your needs. It can also include your family and those you care about.
The focus is on:
- Managing your pain or any other distressing symptoms
- Offering emotional, psychological and spiritual support
- Helping with everyday activities such as washing and dressing
- Offering practical support, getting equipment, planning for the future.
The type of care that you get will depend on your own personal needs.
How do I get palliative care?
You can talk to:
- Your GP
- Your hospital doctor (oncologist)
- Your nurse specialist.
- This can come from many people.
- It will depend on the type and level of care or support that you need.
- Your GP can help with symptom relief.
They can also tell you about other services that are available in your community.
Your hospital doctor
- Your hospital doctor may be able to offer treatments that will control your cancer or help to manage symptoms.
- Social services can help you to:
- access care at home
- move to a care home or
- access respite care if you need it.
- Ask your GP how to access social care.
- Physiotherapists can help to:
- Keep you active
Provide exercise programmes or advice on everyday activities.
- They can also help with managing side effects such as:
- Tiredness (fatigue)
- Lymphoedema (swelling caused by a build-up of fluid)
- Your GP may be able to refer you to an NHS physiotherapist.
- Physiotherapists also work at hospices and other charities.
- Your GP can help you find out what is available in your local area.
- You can also get physiotherapy privately.
- Visit the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy website (this will open in an external tab) for information on how to find a physiotherapist.
- Occupational therapists can assess your needs. They can help you to access any equipment you may need such as:
- Bathing aids
- Tools to help you dress
Adaptations to your home.
- They can also help you to:
- Identify and achieve particular goals
- Keep your independence
- Manage symptoms such as, pain or fatigue.
- Some hospitals have specialist palliative care occupational therapy teams. Ask your hospital doctor or specialist nurse for more information.
- You can find out more about occupational therapy on the NHS website (this will open in an external tab).
- Your GP can give you advice on how to access an occupational therapist in your community.
- Dieticians can help you and your healthcare team to make sure you are getting the nutrition you need during your care and treatment.
- They can support you with your weight and strength.
- They can also give you special nutrition if you need it. This may include high-calorie drinks or liquid foods.
- Your GP or hospital doctor can refer you to a dietician.
- Dieticians work in hospitals and out in the community.
- You can also see a dietician privately.
- Visit the British Dietetic Association website for information on how to find a private dietician (this will open in an external tab).
- Nurses can help you to:
- Manage your symptoms
- Provide emotional support
- Give support to families.
- There are different types of nurses. For example:
- Community nurses
- Hospital-based palliative care nurses
- Cancer nurse specialists.
- Some charities also provide nurse-based care.
- Your GP or hospital doctor can help you to access nursing support.
- Your local hospice offers many in-patient and outpatient services.
- Many people think that hospices are places where people go to die. But hospice care can be provided at every stage of a person’s condition. Not just the end of their life.
- Your local hospice can offer services such as:
- Pain and symptom control
- Physiotherapy and occupational therapy
- Psychological and social support
- Complementary therapies
- Financial advice
- Art or garden therapy
- Hospice at home services
- Support for family members
- Short breaks.
- Your GP can refer you to your local hospice.
- For more information on hospices, you can visit Hospice UK (this will open in a new external tab).
- Counselling services can help you with all aspects of living with your cancer. Your GP may be able to refer you to counselling locally.
- Your cancer centre may also be able to help you to find a counsellor.
- You can also access counselling through some charities, for example, Penny Brohn (this will open in a new external tab).
- Macmillan Cancer Support: Free specialist counselling: Through Bupa, Macmillan are offering up to six free counselling sessions for people struggling emotionally because they are living with cancer. People can access specialist support remotely within days if they qualify to use the service. To find out more, visit Macmillan's free specialist counselling page (this link will open in a new external tab) or call their free support line on: 0808 808 0000 and ask about the Bupa service.
- Counselling is available privately. The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy can help you find a counsellor in your local area (this will open in a new external tab).
Money may be a problem if you are no longer able to work. You can ask your GP or hospital doctor to refer you to a social worker. They will be able to look at your financial situation. They can then give you advice on benefits or special funds that you may be entitled to.
Many charities can also offer support and information. Some provide access to grants that can help with extra costs of equipment or fuel.
- The NHS website provides information on:
The Gov.uk website provides information on benefits at the end of life including non-means-tested disability living allowance (this link will open in an external tab).
Macmillan Cancer Support Advisors can offer financial guidance, energy advice and advice about welfare rights. You can call the Macmillan support line on: 0808 808 0000.
The support line is open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week. But, financial guidance is only available Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. For more information about their opening times, visit the Macmillan Cancer Support website (link will open in a new external tab).
Visit their webpage for information on benefits for people who are affected by cancer (link will open in a new tab).
- Marie Curie (this link will open in a new external tab) is the UK’s leading end-of-life charity. They provide frontline nursing and hospice care, a free support line, and online support and information on all aspects of dying, death and bereavement.
- Maggie’s (this link will open in a new external tab) provides free cancer support and information in centres across the UK and online.
- Penny Brohn (this link will open in a new external tab) are open to anyone aged 18 or over who have a cancer diagnosis, and to people in a close supporting role. They support people to live well with cancer and offer a holistic approach. This means the focus is on the whole person – mind, body, spirit and emotions.
- Macmillan Cancer Support (this link will open in a new external tab) support people who are living with cancer. This includes a support line, cancer nurses, financial guidance and much more.
- Sue Ryder (this link will open in a new external tab) support people who are living with a terminal illness, a neurological condition or who have lost someone.
About this information
- This information was published in March 2023. We will revise it in March 2024.
- References and bibliography available on request.
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