End-of-life care (or palliative care) focuses on patients with a terminal illness who are assessed as only having a short time left to live. It provides care and support in the final stage of the illness, prior to death and after it. The key focus is on alleviating the patient's symptoms and suffering. It also provides support for the family members. The change from regular treatment to end-of-life care requires discussion of the matter with the patient and possibly also with the family members and other persons close to the patient. The treatment decisions are recorded in the patient record.
Primarily, end-of-life care is the responsibility of basic health care that receives 24-hour support from Kuopio University Hospital to provide high-quality end-of-life care. A successful doctor-patient relationship enables patients to cope at home for quite a long time. Provision is made for a smooth transition to the health center inpatient ward for anyone who needs it. The City of Kuopio's Harjula Hospital has an end-of-life care support ward that serves the residents of Kuopio. End-of-life care in the surrounding municipalities is primarily implemented in their own health centers.
End-of-life care at Kuopio University Hospital
End-of-life care is the responsibility of each patient's unit of treatment, which consults end-of-life care experts where necessary. Patients also have access to a social worker and a hospital priest who can take part in the care according to the patient's needs.
An end-of-life treatment outpatient clinic operates in conjunction with the Cancer Center, serving as the expert and consultation outpatient clinic for symptomatic treatment. In this way, coping at home or treatment through care at the health center are supported.
Volunteer organisations and parishes work with patients and their families to support them. When it is well implemented, end-of-life care constitutes the holistic care of the patient by a multidisciplinary working group, complemented by volunteer employees.