Palliative Care – A Joint Challenge?

Ziv Medical Center hosted a conference on the subject of end of life treatment entitled "Palliative Care - a Joint Challenge?"

The conference was held in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, the Center for Training and Knowledge Development, JDC-Israel Eshel Kiryat Bialik and Bar-Ilan University's Azrieli Faculty of Medicine in Zefat.

At the conference, which was attended by specialists, medical teams, therapists and social workers from around the country, a number of topics were discussed, including planning therapeutic preferences, supportive treatment for hospitalization in the community and communication principles of the staff with the patient and his/her family at the end of life. The seminar was designed to raise different aspects of the subject from different perspectives of supportive treatment in the hospital-institution-community continuum.

Palliative care is a therapeutic approach aimed at improving the quality of life of patients suffering from incurable diseases and their families and care-takers who are coping with such illness, prevention or reduction of their suffering, including treatment for relief of their pain and the various symptoms of the illness (such as respiratory problems, nausea and difficulty in swallowing). This care is provided in various settings: hospitals, hospices and home care and can be accessible at all stages of the disease, along with the healing treatment. A multi-disciplinary team is involved in the treatment, with doctors, nurses, social workers, caregivers, etc., according to the needs of the patient and his/her family.

As the course of the disease progresses, and the more difficult the treatment becomes, the greater the role of palliative care. This approach enables the provision of a response to the patients' needs and helps their families cope with difficult and complex situations that threaten their ability to continue to bear the burden of treating the patient at home. The main concept underlying the model is that each patient is entitled to a stability in their symptoms, support and comprehensive treatment depending on his/her physical, mental and social condition in all stages of the disease and not only in its final stages.

At the opening of the conference, Dr. Salman Zarka, Director of Ziv Medical Center, said that "The demand for palliative care has increased in recent decades due to an increase in cancer and other chronic diseases, along with increased longevity of these patients. Coping includes dealing with a wide range of disabilities and a gradual decrease in the functioning of body systems. This period of life is often painful, burdensome and expensive for patients and their family members, and can lead to a disruption of routine and quality of life of all members of the family".