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The views and opinions expressed in our blog series are those of the authors and are not necessarily supported by CareSearch, Flinders University and/or the Australian Government Department of Health.
Move it or lose it, as the saying goes, is relevant to the field of palliative care. In fact, evidence suggests that up to 30% of muscle weakness in advanced illness can be due to inactivity itself.
Physiotherapists are in a prime position to make a difference to how patients experience end of life by helping them maximise their independence at each stage. Expertise in functional assessment combined with an understanding of the impact of symptoms on the lived experience enables therapists to work closely with patients to improve their quality of life (QOL).
Mental health and palliative care patients: the “treatment gap”
Sadness, social withdrawal, depression, loss of hope; if a non-palliative person experiences any of these feelings, the health care system has well established processes and services to treat them. Why then do we accept this as ‘normal’ and ‘to be expected’ for those facing the end of life? Why does the system hesitate to ‘label’ these vulnerable people with a mental illness tag?
Mental illness in the terminally ill is too often underdiagnosed and undertreated. It’s frequently ignored – “well of course you’re having trouble coping, you’re dying,” – or pushed aside in favour of addressing clinical symptoms. While existential and psychological care is acknowledged as being crucial to providing quality end of life care, people continually report that theirs, their families and care givers needs in this domain are not addressed.
Thank you for your continued support and readership of Palliative Perspectives. We've been delighted to see so many people interested in the guest posts that we've featured, and welcome your feedback and ideas for future posts. Please also continue to share this blog with your colleagues and friends on Twitter, via email, or wherever you spend time online.
Now that we've completed our series of posts for GPs, we'd like to introduce our next focus: CareSearch Project Updates.