Illnesses and long-term conditions

Palliative and end of life care

Palliative care is provided by health and social care professionals to people of all ages living and dying with any advanced or progressive health condition. Palliative care focuses on quality of life for the person, their family and others who are close to them at every stage of their illness journey from diagnosis through death and bereavement.

Palliative care prevents and relieves suffering through the early identification, correct assessment and holistic management of pain, other symptoms and wider aspects of care, including mental health, social and spiritual problems.

Underpinning this approach is person-centred care, based on what matters most to the person as well as their families and carers. Palliative care adds value by focusing on the individual and their situation, and helping people clarify their priorities for treatment and care. This applies equally whether the person is an adult or a child or young person.

General palliative care is provided by clinicians and other staff across health and social care for the people they look after with palliative care needs, alongside giving other treatments and care. It includes care around death for those who are dying at home, in care homes, or in hospitals.

Specialist palliative care is provided by specially trained, multi-professional palliative care teams for people living in the community and in care homes, and patients in hospitals and in hospices. Specialist palliative care has a particular role in providing support, advice, and education to the rest of the health and care system. 

We are committed to developing a new palliative care strategy. This will replace our Palliative and end of life care: strategic framework for action 2016 – 2021 (December 2015).

Strategy Steering Group

We set up a Strategy Steering Group to oversee the development and delivery of the palliative and end of life care strategy and associated work programmes.

The Strategy Steering Group members have agreed the following overarching aims for the Strategy:

  • everyone in Scotland receives well-coordinated, timely and high-quality palliative care, care around death, and bereavement support based on their needs and preferences including support for families and carers
  • Scotland is a place where people and communities can come together to support each other, take action, and talk openly about planning ahead, serious illness, dying, death, and bereavement.

Read more about the group's aims, priniciples, priorities and approach.

Delegated functions

Palliative and end of life care is a delegated function of Integration Authorities.

  • an Integration Authority can be a local authority, a health board or an integration joint board, according to the model of integration adopted. It covers both models of integration whether body corporate ( IJB) or lead agency
  • an Integration Joint Board is the decision making and governance body for all delegated functions, services and budgets, identified in individual integration schemes. It is a statutory body, constituting a separate legal entity to local authorities and health boards
  • Health and Social Care Partnership is led by a Chief Officer and is the operational and delivery aspect of integration, bringing together staff from the relevant health board and local authority

Guidance to support Health and Social Care Partnerships with the development of their Strategic Commissioning plans in relation to palliative and end of life care services can be found in the Strategic Commissioning of Palliative and End of Life Care by Integration Authorities - Advice Note 2018

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