Palliative care refers to treatment based on managing symptoms without treating the underlying cause. Although associated with the treatment of people with terminal conditions such as cancer, in practice, palliative care services and hospices are now treating people with a range of long-term, disabling conditions that are not necessarily life threatening. In MS this usually means people with more advanced symptoms.
The goal of palliative care is to achieve the best possible quality of life for an individual and their family through the management of symptoms and by providing emotional and spiritual support as required.
The National Service Framework (NSF) for long-term conditions,which was published by the Department of Health in February 2005, included palliative care as one of its quality requirements. It stated "People in the later stages of long-term neurological conditions are to receive a comprehensive range of palliative care services when they need them to control symptoms, offer pain relief and meet their needs for personal, social, psychological and spiritual support, in line with the principles of palliative care."
The Hospice Information Service provided by Help the Hospices has a directory of hospice and palliative care services in the UK.
Dying Matters is a website that aims to encourage people to talk about dying, death and bereavement with their families and friends and to help people discuss their wishes towards the end of their lives, including where they want to die and their funeral plans.
Last reviewed: July 2014
Last updated: May 2016
This page will be reviewed within three years