Palliative care is multidisciplinary medical care that supports those with life-threatening diseases, most commonly AIDS and cancers. This specialised care aims to optimise a patient’s quality of life, as well as support their family members, at every stage of illness.
Care begins when a life-threatening disease is diagnosed and continues regardless of whether treatment, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or any other treatment directed at the disease, is received or not.
Palliative care may be provided in healthcare facilities, community centres (such as hospice community centres) or at home. According to the Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa (HPCA), about 100 000 patients and their families receive hospice services every year, mostly in the comfort of their own homes.
It includes the prevention and management of pain and other symptoms associated with a patient’s illness, as well as supporting a patient’s psychological and spiritual needs. A patient’s family is also supported with advice on how to provide care at home and through counselling, including bereavement support if a patient passes away.
Hospice programmes and palliative care teams in certain hospitals offer the needed care. Several specially trained healthcare providers can deliver palliative care, including medical doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, dietitians, pharmacists and social workers.
According to the HPCA’s latest available annual report for 2020, 44% of patients cared for were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, 24% with chronic illnesses, 20% with cancer and 12% with tuberculosis. Females accounted for 65% of patients and males 35%, with 46 to 60 years of age accounting for the highest percentage with regard to age distribution accounting for 26% of patients.
Bestmed’s palliative care benefits
Bestmed Medical Scheme offers palliative care and home-based care in lieu of hospitalisation across all benefit options at 100% Scheme tariff. The hospital pre-authorisation department considers hospice authorisation.
The benefit is limited to a specified amount per beneficiary per annum as per a member’s benefit option. It is also subject to available benefit, pre-authorisation and treatment plan.
Bestmed Medical Scheme. 2021. Oncology. Available [Online]: https://www.bestmed.co.za/benefits-and-cover/oncology#!faqs. [Accessed: 7 October 2021].
HPCA Care & Support. 2020. 2020 Annual Report. Available [Online]: https://hpca.co.za/Resources/annual-report/. [Accessed: 7 October 2021].
HPCA Care & Support. 2020. Hospice Care. Available [Online]: https://hpca.co.za/palliative-care/hospice-care/. [Accessed: 7 October 2021].
HPCA Care & Support. 2020. What is Palliative Care? Available [Online]: https://hpca.co.za/palliative-care/. [Accessed: 7 October 2021].
HPCA Care & Support. 2020. Who Qualifies? Available [Online]: https://hpca.co.za/palliative-care/who-qualifies/. [Accessed: 7 October 2021].
Lexico. 2021. Palliative care. Available [Online]: https://www.lexico.com/definition/palliative_care?locale=en. [Accessed: 7 October 2021].