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What is palliative or end-of-life care?

This page explains what palliative care and end-of-life care is, what type of care and support Sue Ryder provides, and who provides it.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is the care and support given to people with life-limiting conditions like cancer, heart failure and lung disease. It aims to give people the best quality of life possible. It focuses on managing pain and other symptoms over the weeks, months or years someone is living with a life-limiting condition.

Palliative care includes the practical and emotional support people and those close to them need in order to spend the time they have left in the way they choose.

What is end-of-life care?

End-of-life care is the care and support given to people in their last few weeks or final days.

People can receive end-of-life care at home, in a hospice or in hospital, depending on their needs and preferences. Whatever has brought a person to the end of their life, be it a life-limiting condition or old age, end-of-life care aims to manage pain and other symptoms so they are as comfortable as possible.

By helping people and their families to make the choices that are right for them, end-of-life care offers practical and emotional support at what can be a very difficult time.

What is hospice care?

Hospice care is the care given to people with a life-limiting condition. It combines specialist medical care to manage pain and other symptoms, along with the emotional and practical support.

Hospice care describes a type of care, rather than a place of care. It can be given in a hospice building at day clinics or for short, overnight stays (usually two weeks), in people’s homes and out in the community.

It includes palliative care, which focuses on managing symptoms to give someone the best quality of life for the weeks, months and years they are living with a life-limiting condition. And it includes end-of-life care, which is given in someone’s final weeks and days.

People can choose to have hospice care until their symptoms are under control, then take a break if their condition becomes stable and they feel better. Some people choose to spend their last few weeks and days at a hospice and die there.

Watch Ricky and Gemma's story

Hear from Ricky as he talks about his wife Gemma and the palliative care she received.

What type of care and support does Sue Ryder provide?

Our hospices and palliative care hubs offer inpatient care in calm surroundings, with staff highly skilled in dealing with the physical and emotional effects of life-limiting conditions. By relieving symptoms such as pain, breathlessness and nausea, our specialist teams make people as comfortable as possible.

Our therapy and emotional support teams are also there to care for the whole person, their family and friends. We go the extra mile to make our hospices feel like a home from home.

We’re always open 24 hours a day. Family and friends can visit any time they like and will always receive a warm welcome. And whatever people want, whether that’s a takeaway, a visit from their cat or just someone to hold their hand and listen, the care we provide is flexible.

Find your nearest centre or palliative care hub.

Who provides this care at Sue Ryder?

All of our care and support is provided by Sue Ryder healthcare professionals who are experts in palliative and end of life care. These teams include doctors, nurses, nursing assistants, physiotherapists, occupational and complementary therapists, social workers, bereavement support workers and volunteer befrienders.

Our healthcare teams are privileged to be there for you when it matters to give care and support to people and their families at the most difficult time of their lives.

Sue Ryder healthcare professionals are trained and experienced in providing the specialist care that people with life-limiting illnesses need. Working together seamlessly, they listen to what is important to each person and their family; they provide the expert, personalised care that people need; and they co-ordinate with other health professionals and services to ensure people get the right care and support at the right time.

The healthcare teams bring together a rich mix of skills in areas such as intensive care, renal medicine and oncology, and are able to provide expert care whatever a person’s diagnosis. They are trained and experienced in reviewing and managing medication, and managing complex symptoms such as pain, vomiting and breathlessness, that it can be difficult to control at home. They also help people with activities of daily living and personal care such as washing, dressing and going to the toilet.

Above all, Sue Ryder staff listen to what’s important to people and how they want to be cared for. They give people choice and control. We know that for many people this is a very anxious time, so our nurses take the time to do the little things, like having a cup of tea and chat when someone needs it, and they make the effort to organise the big things, like helping someone to get married.

Whether they are supporting people in one of our hospices or providing care in someone’s home, our healthcare teams focus on going the extra mile to provide the wrap-around care each person needs to enjoy the best quality of life they can.

One female Sue Ryder Clinical Nurse Specialist and one male Healthcare assistant chatting and laughing with one another in a Sue Ryder hospice
Find a local care service
We have palliative care hubs, hospices and community support in a number of different counties across England.
A patient is sat up in bed, holding hands with a family member who is sat next to the bed. In the foreground is the profile of a nurse, who is talking to the couple.
Sue Ryder Nurses
Sue Ryder Nurses are privileged to be there to give care and support for people and their families at the most difficult time of their lives.