On October 10, the World Palliative Care Day, a date to raise awareness in the population about this area of ​​health so necessary for patients, families and caregivers. Every year in Spain, about 228,000 people require this type of care and, of these, almost 80,000 lack access due to a lack of resources, as reflected in the Atlas of palliative care in Europe 2019, which places Spain in the last positions of all Europe.

Rafael Mota, president of SECPAL: “Palliative care is not equal to death, our motto is ‘give life'”.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), palliative care “constitutes an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their relatives when they face problems inherent to a life-threatening disease”.

Thus, they alleviate suffering by “early identification, evaluation and correct treatment of pain and other problems of a physical, psychosocial or spiritual nature “.

What benefits do they bring to patients and families?

Generally, this type of care is aimed at cancer patients, although it is also attended to people with chronic or advanced diseases such as cardiac, neurological, degenerative or respiratory.

Yolanda López, member of the Psychosocial Care team at the San Camilo de Tres Cantos Palliative Care Unit (Madrid)
Yolanda López, palliative care psychologist: “When a patient is admitted, his whole family also enters”

Other conditions may also require palliative care such as kidney failure, chronic liver disease, multiple sclerosis, dementia, or birth defects. Pain is one of the most common symptoms for which a patient requires this type of care which, as explained by the WHO,they carry multiple benefits:

  • They reduce pain and other symptoms caused by the disease.
  • They affirm life and consider death a normal process. In this sense, they do not try to hasten or delay death.
  • They provide psychological and spiritual care for the patient.
  • They offer a support system for patients and for the adaptation of relatives.
  • They use a team approach to respond to all needs, including emotional support in the grieving process.
  • They improve the quality of life and positively influence the course of the disease.

Need for better access

The approach to work in palliative care is based on a multidisciplinary team with specialized professionals that respond to the specific needs of these patients who are in the final stage of life, as well as their families or caregivers.

Palliative care
82% of European countries have increased their palliative care services since 2005, according to a UN study

However, “the reality is very differentteams are usually made up of a doctor and a nurse “, underlines the Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU). In exceptional cases, patients are also treated by psychology and social work professionals.

In this sense, from the Spanish Society of Intensive Care (SECPAL) they have warned of the increase in people in Spain who continue without receiving the necessary palliative care and insist on the need for these patients to have access “to the best possible assistance so that they can see their suffering alleviated and enjoy the best quality of life until the end”, argues the president of SECPAL, Rafael Mota.