Palliative care is often discussed in terms of holistic care, and of a patient and family centred approach. This care is best delivered by a multidisciplinary team who can support patients and families who may have physical, functional, emotional, psychological, social and spiritual care needs.
A multidisciplinary team will mean different things to different services. For some it will mean having many specialist palliative care practitioners involved in the service itself. This could be Pastoral Care Workers, Social Workers, Music Therapists, Bereavement Counsellors or Occupational Therapists. For others it will mean referring to health professionals within the same organisation or health service, such as a hospital physiotherapist. For some in more rural and remote areas this referral to other disciplines may be difficult with long waiting lists and distances to travel for appointments.
For the specialist palliative care team the term 'interdisciplinary team' is commonly used and is a common model of practice. An interdisciplinary team is that which has roles that sometimes overlap between disciplines and generally the team will share information and work interdependently. While the patient and family may only see one or two members of the team, those members will be supported by the interdisciplinary team in which they practice.