Palliative care is a newly emerging field within veterinary medicine. It refers to the ideals of ensuring patient comfort, providing access to specialised end-stage health care and supporting caregivers through the difficulties of end-of-life decision making. When curative treatment is not always possible or considered to be in the patient’s best interests, palliative care provides a formalised avenue for comfort-focused care and invites us all to participate in more effective end-of-life communication with clients in an attempt to reduce or relieve suffering.
In Australia, there has been no formal recognition of veterinary palliative care as it’s own unique field and yet, the practice of palliative care requires specialised knowledge across a broad range of subjects. This council aims to facilitate the dissemination of information to practising veterinarians, that will allow them to deliver more comprehensive palliative care services to both their patients and the families who care for them.
The underlying aims of palliative care revolve around providing symptomatic management of the sequelae of disease, as well as the delivery pain management and comprehensive carer support. It requires veterinarians to be able to identify, and preemptively respond to, a range of physical, psychosocial and spiritual factors that may negatively influence quality of life. The human model of palliative care relies heavily on the engagement of a multi-faceted health care team and we encourage veterinarians to reach out to allied health professionals when building their own care teams within their practice. This may include veterinary nurses, physiotherapists, social workers, counsellors, groomers, trained animal carers, etc.