In recent years, palliative care became a highly effective medical specialty, regardless of its modernity in nursing. Kelley and Morrison (2015) define palliative care as interdisciplinary care that “focuses on improving quality of life for persons of any age who are living with any serious illness and for their families” (p. 747). This specialty includes not only nursing but medicine, social work, chaplaincy, and other appropriate services as well (Kelley & Morrison, 2015). Palliative care provides highly substantial support to patients, their families, and clinicians by providing high-quality person-centered care coordination and treating pain, spiritual and psychological distress, and other symptoms.
Moreover, this nursing concept is based on the patients’ needs rather than on their prognoses. For a prevalent number of people, palliative care is associated exclusively with cancer. However, this specialty aims to provide comfort and improve life quality to patients with severe, chronic, incurable, or life-threatening illnesses, such as kidney failure, AIDS, congestive heart failure, Alzheimer’s, and obstructive pulmonary disease, as well.
Attributes of Palliative Care
Similar to any other nursing concept, palliative care has a range of distinctive characteristics or attributes. It goes without saying that the most distinguishable characteristic of palliative care is its person-centering. This concept implies the delivery of health care to a patient with all respect to his or her needs, health condition, personal characteristics, cultural peculiarities, visions, and religious values and beliefs. The primary concern of palliative care is the patient’s comfort and appropriate life quality regardless of prognosis and disease severity.
Another essential attribute of this nursing concept may be regarded as the support of health care delivery by appropriate evidence-based medical treatment (Simon, Choudhry, Frankfort, et al., 2017). Ideally, palliative care “is initiated at the time of diagnosis” and provided in accordance with curative treatment in case of its necessity (Kelley & Morrison, 2015, p. 747). In addition, palliative care is characterized by coordinated teamwork of various individuals and organizations that include general practitioners, hospitals, visiting nurses, clergy, domiciliary services, charitable organizations, and the patients’ families and close friends. These valuable services focus on providing comfort to patients with severe life-threatening diseases through combined efforts.
Antecedent and Consequence of Palliative Care
The practice related to terminal care that was provided to dying patients may be regarded as the medical component of general medicine with its own rich history. During the 19th and 20th centuries, palliative medicine was limited by pain treatment that included the Brompton Cocktail and oral morphine developed in the 1890s (Watson, Campbell, Vallath, et al., 2019). The development of palliative care as an interdisciplinary specialty started in the middle of the 20th century when whole-person care was promoted by various services (Watson, Campbell, Vallath, et al., 2019). In the present day, palliative care plays an immeasurably significant role in the welfare of patients with severe diseases.
It currently incorporates the full range of care – nursing, medical, social, psychological, spiritual, and cultural. Palliative care is characterized by a sensitive non-judgmental approach to every patient with respect to his or her personality, ethnic origin, intellect, socioeconomic status, and religious beliefs. In addition, the focus of palliative care on the needs of clients helps them to overcome all difficulties of medical treatment or finish their life in comfort in case of a terminal disease.
The fundamental purpose and attributes of palliative care may be observed in the case of a young woman who suffers from lung cancer. First of all, a palliative care doctor was responsible for her condition during the surgical intervention by the adjustment of medication according to the patient’s pain level. Moreover, before surgery, the woman was prepared spiritually by a cleric who was included in her palliative care team as well.
Lately, during chemotherapy, a social worker provided the patient with a wig as the woman had lost her hair. Finally, a counselor was helping her to deal with anxiety, depression, and intense emotions. As a result, the described case demonstrates that palliative care that aims to provide comfort for a patient with severe illnesses is person-centered, and it supports prescribed medical treatment through the coordinated teamwork of various institutions.
Theoretical Application of the Concept and Personal Reflection
It goes without saying that nursing theory and its application are highly significant for the effective execution of the nursing practice. All reliable standards, principles, and guidelines of nursing were elaborated by multiple theorists and scholars. That is why a competent nurse practitioner conducts his or her activities on the basis of nursing theory. Palliative care entirely applies to nursing theory as the concept refers to the fundamental principles of nursing – the delivery of person-centered health care of the highest quality (McCormack & McCance, 2017). The main focus of the nursing concept of palliative care is a person, his or her individuality, needs, and emotions. This concept of nursing realizes the fundamental purpose of this discipline regardless of treatment outcomes.
From a personal perspective, the analysis of palliative care is highly beneficial for my practice as a nurse practitioner in the future. First of all, it confirmed the significance of person-centered care and demonstrated the importance of every person’s life regardless of the severity of a disease. I believe that palliative care represents the principles of nursing to the fullest extent possible. I will definitely apply such distinctive characteristics of palliative care as emotional support, compassion, empathy, and respect in my nursing practice.
Kelley, A. S., & Morrison, R. S. (2015). Palliative care for seriously ill. The New England Journal of Medicine, 373, 747-755. Web.
McCormack, B., & McCance, T. (Eds.) (2017). Person-centered practice in nursing and health care: Theory and practice (2nd ed.). Wiley Blackwell.
Simon, M., Choudhry, N. K., Frankfort, J., Margolius, D., Murphy, J., Paita, L., Wang, T., & Milstein, A. (2017). Exploring attributes of high-value primary care. The Annals of Family Medicine, 15(6), 529-534. Web.
Watson, M., Campbell, R., Vallath, N., Ward, S., & Wells, J. (2019). Oxford handbook of palliative care (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press.