Cancer Alliance Advocacy Toolkit

Palliative Care Policy – Adults with Cancer

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: ALL CANCER PATIENTS, IRRESPECTIVE OF WHERE YOU LIVE, HAVE A RIGHT TO PALLIATIVE CARE, STARTING AT THE TIME OF DIAGNOSIS.

Palliative care uses a team approach to support patients and their caregivers. This includes addressing practical needs and providing bereavement counselling. It offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death. – World Health Organisation1

Click here for a pdf copy of the slides, or here to download the text only.

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is aimed at improving the quality of life of patients living with a serious illness, and of their families. It prevents and relieves suffering by ensuring the treatment of pain and other concerns that arise following a cancer diagnosis, so helping people continue to live an active life with their illness.

Palliative care affirms life, but if the cancer does not respond to treatment and the patient’s condition continues to worsen, palliative care is there to continue managing their pain and keeping them comfortable. This type of care helps to secure dignity in living, but also in dying should the illness progress.

The purpose of palliative care includes:

  • An important part of palliative care is the emotional and psychosocial support for you as the patient, and your family. Palliative care is provided alongside the psychological and spiritual aspects of care. A multidisciplinary team is there to make sure all your needs, and those of your family, are addressed. The team is guided by your wishes, and helps you to gain back control of your life when this control seems to be torn away by cancer, and the cancer treatment.
  • Palliative care works in conjunction with other therapies, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, to help you the patient and your family better understand and manage the distressing complications of the disease.2
  • It also enhances quality of life, and positively influences the course of your illness.

Who Needs It?

  • Cancer Patients: Everyone who is diagnosed with advanced cancer, regardless of age, income or the community in which you live.
  • Caregivers and families: They are an important part of the palliative care team, and must be included in the planning of treatment and care. This is because they will provide care on a day-to-day basis, including giving medication, providing transport for medical visits, and helping with daily tasks of living within the family. Their support is both emotional and practical, and they are assisted by the advice provided by the palliative care team.

How Will Palliative Care Help You?

Studies have shown that:

  • Getting palliative care soon after diagnosis increases patients’ coping abilities and their quality of life.3
  • Getting hospital-based palliative care resulted in patients spending less time in intensive care units, and they were less likely to be readmitted to the hospital after they went home.
  • Patients had better quality of life and experienced fewer and less severe symptoms. These included less pain, less shortness of breath and less depression following palliative care involvement and care planning.
  • Palliative care may also increase survival. Patients in a 2010 study who were given palliative care alongside best supportive cancer treatment lived nearly three months longer than those who got no palliative care. 3

What does South Africa’s new National Policy Framework and Strategy on Palliative Care 2017 – 2022 mean for you as a cancer patient?

This new policy recognises palliative care as an essential part of the continuum of healthcare delivery. This means that this vital care is no longer an option that’s available only to certain, privileged communities. The policy applies to all South Africans, regardless of income or where you live.

Models of Palliative Care that Must Be Provided Include:

  • Home-Based Palliative Care.
  • Mobile Outreach Services.
  • Outpatient Palliative Care.
  • Inpatient Palliative Care.
  • Hospital-based Palliative Care Teams.
  • Day Care Palliative Services.

What about Medication, Counselling, Access to Other Therapies and Transport?

The new policy is clear that you are entitled to palliative care at varying stages of your illness, from first cancer diagnosis to end-of-life support.

These include:

  • Medication to control distressing symptoms.
  • Nursing care at the clinic or at home.
  • Support from social workers to provide psychosocial counselling and practical support services throughout the palliative care phase to the patient and the family members. They are also responsible to assist the palliative care team with proper discharge planning when patients are hospitalized.
  • Assistance to access transport to hospital.
  • Access to allied health services, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, a dietitian and/or nutritional support.
  • Assistive devices and care at home.4

What Are Our Ongoing Concerns?

The National Policy Framework and Strategy for Palliative Care has the potential to improve the care of people living with cancer. It is however essential that the government drives the initiative, ensuring the policy remains an active document that guides provincial strategy to implement its content, so ensuring that those who need palliative care actually receive this vital care.

We also call on the government to ensure that the policy is adequately funded and that healthcare workers are trained to provide palliative care to all – adults and children.

 

References

  1. World Health Organisation. Palliative Care: Fact Sheet. Retrieved on March 13, 2017, from http://bit.ly/PalCareFacts
  2. Hospice and Palliative Care Association of South Africa. Palliative Care. Retrieved on March 3, 2018, from http://bit.ly/PalCareWhatis
  3. Asco Conquer Cancer Foundation. The Importance of Palliative Care for Patients and Caregivers. Retrieved on March 3, 2018, from http://bit.ly/PalCareGuide
  4. National Policy Framework and Strategy on Palliative Care 2017 – 2022. http://bit.ly/PalCarePol

 

Social Media

  1. Did you know? All cancer patients in South Africa have a right to #PalliativeCare, starting from diagnosis #LetsTalkAboutCancer #RightToHealth http://bit.ly/PalCareToolkit
  2. #PalliativeCare relieves suffering and helps patients to live an active life after their diagnosis #LetsTalkAboutCancer #RightToHealth http://bit.ly/PalCareToolkit
  3. #PalliativeCare is necessary for every single cancer patient #LetsTalkAboutCancer #RightToHealth http://bit.ly/PalCareToolkit
  4. #PalliativeCare relieves suffering and helps patients to live an active life after their diagnosis #LetsTalkAboutCancer #RightToHealth http://bit.ly/PalCareToolkit
  5. #PalliativeCare works together with other therapies, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, to help you and your family understand and manage your cancer. #LetsTalkAboutCancer #RightToHealth http://bit.ly/PalCareToolkit
  6. Your caregivers and family should be included in your #PalliativeCare team #LetsTalkAboutCancer #RightToHealth http://bit.ly/PalCareToolkit
  7. South Africa’s new National Policy Framework and Strategy on Palliative Care 2017 – 2022 means that #PalliativeCare is recognized as essential #LetsTalkAboutCancer #RightToHealth http://bit.ly/PalCareToolkit
  8. #PalliativeCare works! It increases patients’ coping abilities and quality of life #LetsTalkAboutCancer #RightToHealth http://bit.ly/PalCareToolkit
  9. #PalliativeCare works! It means that patients spend less time in intensive care and are less likely to be readmitted to hospital #LetsTalkAboutCancer #RightToHealth http://bit.ly/PalCareToolkit
  10. #PalliativeCare works! It means that patients have less pain, less shortness of breath and less depression following palliative care involvement and care planning. #LetsTalkAboutCancer #RightToHealth http://bit.ly/PalCareToolkit
  11. #PalliativeCare works! It means that patients have a better quality of life and experienced fewer and less severe symptoms. #LetsTalkAboutCancer #RightToHealth http://bit.ly/PalCareToolkit
  12. #PalliativeCare may increase survival. Patients in a 2010 study who were given palliative care alongside best supportive cancer treatment lived nearly three months longer than those who got no palliative care. #LetsTalkAboutCancer #RightToHealth http://bit.ly/PalCareToolkit
  13. We call on the government to ensure that the National Policy Framework and Strategy on Palliative Care 2017 – 2022 remains an active document #PalliativeCare #LetsTalkAboutCancer #RightToHealth http://bit.ly/PalCareToolkit
  14. We call on the government to ensure that the National Policy Framework and Strategy on Palliative Care 2017 – 2022 is properly funded and implemented #PalliativeCare #LetsTalkAboutCancer #RightToHealth http://bit.ly/PalCareToolkit
  15. We call on the government to ensure that the National Policy Framework and Strategy on Palliative Care 2017 – 2022 results in active implementation on a provincial level #PalliativeCare #LetsTalkAboutCancer #RightToHealth http://bit.ly/PalCareToolkit

Return to Palliative Care Policy Toolkit.