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Palliative care is everyone’s business — is it yours, doctor?

To the Editor: “Palliative care is everyone’s business” is the theme of Palliative Care Australia’s advocacy in 2013 and of Palliative Care Week, 19–25 May 2013. It is a timely and relevant slogan. Palliative care, once isolated in hospices for advanced cancer, is now a core medical discipline and a specialty established in major hospitals and universities, with community programs extending care to most advanced illness — respiratory, cardiac, renal and neurological — and to aged care.

“Everyone’s business” aims first at the wider community, proclaiming the concern of palliative care as quality of living, not speeding of dying. Well managed care for patients with advanced and terminal illness creates its own publicity — attending family members say, “I want my death to be like that”.

It is also relevant for health professionals, who say to the patient, “you are not ready for that, yet”, as they try another intervention for serious illness. “Everyone’s business” affirms management that is ready to refocus, frankly assess the best interests of the patient and explore relevant palliative options.

When palliative care becomes everyone’s…