Supportive care, is the care provided to aid in the management of symptoms caused by treatment and/or disease. Symptoms affecting quality of life can be both physical and psychological. Supportive care recognises and provides for care beyond a medical approach and takes into account care requirements beyond the cancer treatment. Supportive care can provide support and management of physical, emotional, financial, spiritual, sexual and psychological needs, through engagement and referral to health professionals within the multidisciplinary team. Members of the multidisciplinary team may include:
- Occupational therapists.
- Psychologists and psychiatrists.
- Social workers and pastoral care workers.
- Other therapists such as speech and language therapists, art and music therapists.
- Lymphoedema practitioners (who can help with any swelling in the body brought on by the condition or treatments).
- Specialist nurses, such as wound care nurses, stoma nurses, breast care nurses and continence nurses.
Supportive care is strongly recommended for anyone with cancer who is suffering with symptoms from their disease or treatment, where current strategies are not providing adequate relief of symptoms. Supportive care can be delivered in a variety of settings, in the hospital, private practice facilities, community service locations, as well as in your home.
Where symptoms are compromising quality of life and your disease is unable to be cured, it may be recommended that your supportive care is provided by a specialist palliative care team. Contrary to common belief, palliative care is not just offered as the end of life, palliative care can be provided in combination with active anti-cancer treatment whilst undergoing chemotherapy or other anti-cancer therapies. Where a person has advanced cancer, integration of supportive care through palliative care provision can lead to less time spent in hospital with fewer re-admissions and also a prolonged length of life.