Palliative care movement
The terms "hospice" and "palliative care"
"Palliative care" is the term to describe a medical, psycho-social and spiritual support which focuses on the last phase of a patients life. Hospices and palliative care are an approach to improve the living quality of patients and their families that are confronted with life-threatening illness. The issue is rather to invest in comfort than in recovery for patients – they are usually suffering from an incurable disease and facing a soon death which often also implies a lot of pain. A palliative care plan tries to ensure that the patient suffers as little as possible and makes the most out of the last weeks of life. Creating a familiar, intimate atmosphere and preserving the patients dignity is very important for his/her well-being and should enjoy the same significance as an adequate medical treatment.
"Palliative" originally comes from the latin word "pallium" which means "coat", "palliare" means "to cover with a coat". This metaphor stands for relieving – pain, anxiety, anger, fear. Palliative care eases the patients pain and wraps the situation in an appropriate, blissful coat.
According to the newest level of knowledge, hospice-palliative-thinking should start right away after the diagnosis and not only shortly before the end. It is a proven fact that palliative care has a positive effect not only on the psyche of the patient and of those around him/her, but also on life expectancy as such.
In Germany, our (and other) foundations try to expand the hospice and palliative view in order to make an appropriate care available for everybody. But society’s reaction to death and dying is very restrained until they get inescapably confronted with it. This gives us a reason to spread the significance even more by doing public relations work and initiating projects.