This section includes allied health blogs, case stories and the voice of experience.
The CareSearch Blog Palliative Perspectives informs and provides a platform for sharing views, tips and ideas related to palliative care from community members and health professionals. Below is a collection of the blogs written by allied health professionals.

In 2013-2017 the Allied Health newsletter included case stories were written by invited allied health professionals working in palliative care. Through the story of a patient/client, each case story illustrates commonly encountered issues in palliative care and helpful approaches by one or more allied health professions.

Recounting and exchanging clinical experiences can be helpful in understanding how allied health professionals integrate the care they provide to meet palliative care needs. These examples outline and illustrate the approaches they have used and how these have worked. We welcome contributions at any time as the voice of experience can be of invaluable support and can trigger useful discussions within allied health professions and across the interdisciplinary team. Please send contributions (200 words or more) to:

Palliative Care in the Dental Setting

Dental is an area of palliative care that is emerging and needs to be understood more fully. Working in Special Care Dentistry for 25 years, I know how critical it is for each person to have optimal care tailored to their needs. I treat many dental issues following radiotherapy and chemotherapy or in the lead up to stem cell transplant. When these active cancer treatments don’t offer good results, palliative care can replace curative care. Palliative care is active and supportive care which optimises comfort and quality of life.

I recall a patient waiting for a stem cell transplant for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia who acquired bacterial neutropoenia (insufficient neutrophils - a type of white blood cell) which increased the risk of serious bacterial infections. His prognosis meant that palliative care overrode the option of complex dental work. Until his end of life, my colleagues and I provided treatment in clinic and at home to maintain mouth comfort. Support and instructions for his family on how to provide simple mouth toilets that soothed his dry and ulcerated mouth were our priority. Importantly, we put into place strategies that reduced secondary infections in his mouth and alleviated some of the discomfort.

This is but one case of many where working actively and collaboratively goes a long way to providing dignity and respect at any stage of palliation.

Margie Steffens OAM, ADDH, BSc Dent (Hons) Special Needs Unit, Adelaide Dental Hospital.

Last updated 10 April 2019