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Upside down solutions: palliative care and COVID-19


The current COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented and requires innovation beyond existing approaches to contribute to global health and well-being. This is essential to support the care of people at the end of their lives or who are critically ill from COVID-19 or other life-limiting illnesses. Palliative care (PC) is centred on effective symptom control, promotion of quality of life, complex decision-making, and holistic care of physical, psychological, social and spiritual health. It is ideally placed to both provide and contribute to care for patients, families, communities and colleagues during the pandemic. Where recovery is uncertain, emphasis should be on care and relief of suffering, as well as survival. Where healthcare resources and facilities come under intense pressure, lessons can be learnt from models of care in other settings around the world. This article explores how the field can contribute by ensuring that PC principles and practices are woven into everyday healthcare practice. We explore alternative ways of providing care under such pressure and discuss three areas of learning from resource-limited settings: (1) integration of palliative medicine into everyday practice, (2) simplification of biomedical management plus multidisciplinary teamwork and (3) effective use of volunteers.

  • education and training
  • communication
  • clinical assessment
  • family management
  • hospital care
  • psychological care

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