If you have a serious illness that cannot be cured then you may require palliative care, now or at some point in the future. Serious illnesses include conditions like heart failure, lung fibrosis, kidney failure, advanced cancer, motor neuron disease (MND) and dementia.

Palliative care aims to support people living with serious illness to have quality of life despite their illness, and to support those who they are close to.

Palliative care can:

  • Provide relief from pain and other distressing symptoms such as sickness and breathlessness;
  • Help with social care needs - washing, dressing or eating;
  • Provide emotional and psychological support, both for patients and their families;
  • Work with patients and families to think and plan ahead for when their health deteriorates;
  • Care for people at the end of life, whether they are at home, in a care home, a hospital or hospice.

You can receive palliative care at any stage in your illness - it does not necessarily mean that you are close to the end of your life. Some people receive palliative care for years, while others may only require it in their last weeks or months of life. You can also receive palliative care alongside other treatments which help to control your illness, such as chemotherapy, dialysis, oxygen and medications.

Who provides palliative care in Fife

For many of us, when we hear the term palliative care we automatically think about a hospice. While hospices play an important role for those with particularly complex needs, the vast majority of palliative care is provided by professionals in other parts of the healthcare system, including in the community. Palliative care in Fife is provided by a wide range of health and social care professionals, including:

  • General practitioners
  • District nurses
  • Hospital nurses and doctors
  • Allied health professionals e.g. occupational therapists, physiotherapists, dietitians, chaplains, counsellors
  • Social carers
  • Voluntary sector (e.g. Fife Carers’ Association, Marie Curie, Maggie’s and Macmillan)
  • Fife Specialist Palliative Care Service
  • Palliative Care Outreach Team (Hospice @ Home/ Hospice Without Walls) 

Local GPs and District Nurses are the main providers of palliative care for people who are at home and in care homes in Fife. They are supported by Fife’s Specialist Palliative Care Service, who they can call 24 hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week if they need additional advice or support.

Palliative care in Fife is available in hospitals, in people’s own homes, and in care homes. Inpatient care in the hospice can be an option for people with complex needs, although increasing numbers of people are choosing to remain at home with the support of community outreach teams.