30.06.2017 The new Palliative Care platform supports the relatives of people who are severely or terminally ill
Palliative Care. Relatives play an important role in the care and support of patients who are severely ill or dying. It is therefore vital that they are supported in this challenging responsibility. With its new Palliative Care platform, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) publicises and supports services that assist relatives in this situation.
Most people in Switzerland would prefer to die at home. However, this is usually only possible if the relatives of severely or terminally ill patients are willing to help. They take over a large part of the care and support, coordinate and organise home care – and also have to cope with the approaching loss of a loved one. Accompanying someone through the last phase of life is therefore a considerable challenge. These caregiving relatives often reach the limits of their psychological and physical capacity.
Caregiving relatives need support
Support of the relatives is a very important aspect of palliative care. According to the "National Palliative Care Guidelines" of the Swiss federal government and the cantons, the relatives are involved in a partnership for the whole duration of care and treatment. Caregiving relatives need advice and guidance (e.g. with medical and nursing issues) as well as support (e.g. recognition). This helps them to feel secure and confident. Regular discussions with the interprofessional treatment team are helpful. In addition to psychosocial and spiritual or religious aspects, the funding of care and treatment also needs to be discussed. The limits of the relatives' capacity must be recognised, respected and understood at an early stage. Measures for support and relief must be provided in good time.
Palliative Care Platform
In order to expedite the support of palliative care, the Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA) has developed a new Palliative Care platform. The aim is to ensure that severely and terminally ill patients are well cared for, to support their autonomy and to improve their quality of life. This also involves the support of caregiving relatives. The Palliative Care platform supports networking and exchange of information between stakeholders with annual meetings and a web platform. Examples of implementation in the cantons and regions – for example by enhancing the support and involvement of relatives – are identified and published on the website. In this way, the platform can contribute to the coordination and promotion of stakeholders' activities in palliative care, and can also facilitate the exploitation of synergies. The FDHA sees the Palliative Care platform as a viable means of closing gaps in healthcare and working towards availability of high-quality palliative care services to all patients according to their needs.
Lea von Wartburg, National Health Policy Section, firstname.lastname@example.org