"We have to concern ourselves with the quality of life as well as its length"
Palliative care provides relief to patients suffering from a life-limiting illness, primarily through pain management and other symptom management. Palliative care neither hastens death, nor postpones it. The goal is not to cure, but to provide comfort and maintain the highest possible quality of life for as long as life remains. Palliative care may be delivered in hospice and home care settings or in hospitals, and can be applied to any type of life-limiting illness, although cancer patients remain the most common case referred to by doctors to hospices.
Regarded as a holistic form of care because it addresses the psychological, psychosocial, and spiritual needs just as importantly as it addresses the physical needs of a patient, palliative care became important after 1967 when the first modern hospice, St. Christopher's Hospice was established in UK. It was the founder of St. Christopher's Hospice, Dame Cicely Saunders who conceived the concept of ‘total pain’. Dame Cicely believed in caring for the whole person and enfolding their family and friends within that care. This led to the development of palliative care as a new medical specialty.
In 2002, the World Health Organization (WHO) defined palliative care as "an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual."
WHO further elaborated that palliative care:-
To date, the total number of hospices or palliative care institutions in the world stands at a staggering 8,000, and these include hospice inpatient units, hospital-based palliative care services, community-based teams and day care centres.