Your Guide to Palliative Care in Singapore

If you have heard of palliative care and are unsure how it works, this is a great place to start! In this in-depth guide, we cover everything you need to know about palliative care services in Singapore.

1. What Is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is a comprehensive and customisable care offered to patients who need an improvement in quality of life due to their debilitating condition. It can be provided in combination with curative treatment. A team of medical professionals including doctor, nurse, allied health worker and more who are experienced in palliative medicine are assigned to care for you while eliminating as much discomfort as possible.

With an overarching goal of improving the quality of life, palliative care aims to enhance a patient’s experience every step of the way, based on the assessed care needs. As such, it focuses on, but is not limited to, the relief of pain and other physical distress, prevention of complications, and caring for the psychological, social and spiritual needs of the patient and family. As palliative care is highly personalised, you can find palliative care plans that help with your specific health problems, including:

  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Pneumonia
  • Heart failure
  • Lung problems
  • Chronic pain
  • Advanced dementia
  • Parkinson’s
  • Other life-threatening diseases

2. Why Should You Consider Palliative Care?

There are lots of good reasons to consider palliative care, especially if you want to alleviate suffering by finding effective ways to make your situation as comfortable as possible. When you opt for palliative care, you will receive holistic and comprehensive care that includes:

  • Improved Quality Of Life - This is the principal goal of palliative care. Through measures to manage pain, alleviate other symptoms, and prevent complications, both the patient and family members can improve their well-being. Since palliative care can be conveniently offered at home, they can also spend more time with each other in their most familiar and comfortable environment.
  • 24/7 Care And Support - You’ll have access to round-the-clock care from trained and licensed medical professionals who specialise in palliative medicine for your condition. The make-up of palliative team can be adjusted based on your need. For example, a physiotherapist can join when there is need to improve mobility function. At another time, a speech therapist can come in to help overcome a speech or swallowing problem. 
  • Emotional And Mental Coping - Psychological wellness plays a role in healing from diseases. Palliative care aims to help you cope more effectively with the stress of the illness, through the help of psychiatrists, counsellors, social workers and volunteers who are familiar with the issue you are experiencing.
  • Support Groups And Community - Through palliative programs, you will discover relevant support centers who offer peer support for patients, survivors, and caregivers similar to you, and a larger community and network of people who are going through similar circumstances and willing to lift up one another.
  • Guidance From Health Professionals - You’ll be assisted throughout every phase from start to finish, with every question or concern you have, such as how the different treatment options work, what are their pros and cons, what are the typical costs, and so on.

3. Who Will Benefit From Palliative Care?

Palliative care is beneficial for not just the patients, but also their families and family caregivers to maintain their well-being during every stage of illness. It is the most ideal set-up for ailments that inhibit a patient’s ability to function normally due to physical, mental, or psychological impairments.

It is a common misconception that palliative care is only for cancer or end-of-life patients. Regardless of your age, gender, or condition, palliative care allows you to focus on the aspects of life that bring you joy instead of confronting stressful situations in hospitals or clinics.

4. What Are The Types Of Palliative Care?

As patients journey through their disease, they have different needs and different ways of caring for them are appropriate. These different types of care can be thought to span the disease journey – from healthy through illness and finally death.

Symptom Management & Complication Prevention

When a patient’s illness becomes more severe and cure is not possible, palliative care aims to reduce the symptoms faced by the patient as well as prevent complications from the illness. For example, a patient with incurable lung cancer may need medications to relieve breathlessness and pain. He or she may also need nursing care to prevent pressure sores from developing if he/she remains in bed most of the time.

Hospice Care (End-of-life Care)

As the patient’s condition deteriorates further, severe symptoms and increasing disability may require a higher level of care from skilled personnel. This care may be rendered in an inpatient hospice where nurses can be present round the clock, or the patient may still be at home with more frequent visits by a home hospice care team. There are special skills and techniques in the care for patients in their last days or hours that the care team can help with.

Bereavement Support

When the inevitable happens and the patient has passed away, bereavement and grief is a normal part of the process. Professionals (e.g. counsellors, psychiatrists) or community groups may help provide support to the patient’s families to help them cope with the loss of a loved one.

Ninkatec_Types of Palliative Care

5. Generalist and Specialist Palliative Care

Like other medical illnesses, palliative care needs may be simple and straightforward or complex and complicated. The majority of palliative care patients with uncomplicated needs can be managed by their general practitioners (if they have had experience and training in palliative care). Such patients may only require basic medical supervision for symptoms and do not need close monitoring, injections, etc. This is termed as “Generalist Palliative Care”.

In other cases, patients may have intense discomfort, severe symptoms or complicated medical conditions that require a high level of expertise to manage. These patients will then benefit from palliative care specialists who have had extensive experience and training in this area. This is termed as “Specialist Palliative Care”. If you are unsure if generalist or specialist palliative care suits you or your loved one better, talk to your primary doctor for advice. 

We published a number of palliative care guides for specific conditions on our blog, you can refer to them from the following links: 

6. Is Palliative Care the same as Hospice Care?

Sometimes used interchangeably by the public, palliative care and hospice care are not the same. Hospice care, also known as end-of-life care, is a part of palliative care practice. 

The key difference between the two practices is that hospice care typically starts when the doctor has given a prognosis that the patient has six months or less to live (the patient may eventually beat the prognosis and survive for longer). Palliative care on the other hand can start at any stage of illness, including at the diagnosis of a disease. It is often carried out to complement curative treatment, while hospice care starts when curative treatment has stopped and it is clear that the patient will not survive for long. The below table helps you distinguish between the two types of care. 

Palliative Care VS. Hospice Care

7. Where Can You Receive Palliative Care?

Palliative care can be provided in any care setting, in the hospital, at a care center, clinic or at home. This is one of the advantages of palliative care. Patients can choose the location for treatment depending on their preferences. Many people opt for palliative care in the comfort of their house so they can maintain their daily routines and be surrounded by family and loved ones. 

Hospice care can also be provided at home, not just in a hospice as its name may suggest, in which case it is referred to as home hospice service. It is typically requested by patients who wish to spend the final days of their life with their loved ones and in familiar surroundings. Depending on care needs, the cost can be higher for more intensive and structured care plan, or lower and flexible by visits as and when the patient and family needs. 

Some patients may need to receive palliation at the hospital or clinic, especially when they have more serious conditions to deal with. In these cases, careful consideration and arrangement should be made to make them feel secure, comfortable and settled.

8. Are There Other Methods For Coping During Palliative Care?

Patients undergoing palliative care face enormous challenges, and it can take a toll on you when you least expect it. One of the advantages of palliative care is that it incorporates lots of ways in addition to medical care to help the patient and family maintain their emotional and mental wellness during the treatment process. When a palliative team assesses that you need additional support to maintain or improve your well-being and make the most of palliative care, they may recommend one or more of the following measures. 

Managing Nutrition, Fitness and Emotional & Mental Health

It’s important to take care of both the body and mind with a nutritious diet, appropriate exercises, and therapeutic practices during the journey. Proper self-care and a holistic care program can help manage the symptoms and keep stress at bay through constructive ways, for both the patient and family. To this end, palliative care team may put you in touch with dieticians, wellness experts, and accredited psychologists as necessary for counselling, tips and advice on how to keep yourself physically and mentally healthy.  

Art, Music, And Writing Therapy

Creative outlets can be useful for helping you cope with worries and anxieties you may have about your health and medical treatments. There are plenty of different art, music, and writing programs all over Singapore – these courses and sessions are very therapeutic in assisting patients with their mental well-being so they can remain positive and hopeful throughout their care journey.  

Social Community Support Groups

It’s comforting to know that you aren’t alone – and that’s exactly why you need a solid community of support behind you. When there is a need to connect with social support group, the palliative social worker can help you find a suitable support group to join. Here’s a list of the best centres that provide support to patients, families, and caregivers in Singapore. They are often attached to the different national centers and local organisations and open to individuals from different walks of life:

  • National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS)
  • Singapore Cancer Society (SCS)
  • SingHealth Cancer Supportive Care
  • National Neuroscience Institute (INI)
  • Changi General Hospital
  • Dementia Singapore (formerly known as Alzheimer’s Disease Association)
  • Singapore Heart Foundation
  • Singapore National Stroke Association
  • Club Heal

Connecting With Online Communities

While home care is comfortable, it can be isolating. Fortunately, there are plenty of online communities you can connect with from your home for support. These groups give patients and families the appropriate channels to learn information about their diseases, seek advice from survivors, and view recommendations from health professionals. Ask your palliative care doctor for recommendations and referral, or try one that suits you from the following Facebook groups for peer interaction and encouragement:

  • Cancer Survivor Singapore
  • Breast Cancer Singapore
  • Singapore Association For Mental Health
  • Life After Stroke In Singapore
  • Singapore Liver Cancer Support Group
  • Caregiver And The Elderly
  • Diabetic Society Of Singapore
  • Singapore Special Needs And Parents
  • Palliative & End of Life Care Educators

Preparing For The Worst

For terminally ill patients, sometimes death is anticipated but not fully accepted and prepared for. Since bereavement support is a part of palliative care, patients and families can express worries and concerns with the palliative team to receive the necessary emotional, psycho-social, and spiritual assistance to cope with the situation.

The acceptance of death in fact can bring about a peace of mind. Working with a palliative care nurse or counsellor, the patient and family get help to come to terms with the eventual event and take steps to prepare for it, such as writing down a will, sorting out inheritance paperwork, or giving away some of the belongings. It also facilitates the crucial conversation about how the patient wishes to be cared for when they are nearing the end of life, and subsequently, how they wish to leave.

These steps can be cathartic for everyone involved. Each person deals with grief and loss differently and has their unique bereavement needs. However, everyone can benefit from having someone equipped with training and experience to turn to for support. Explore how palliative care can provide compassionate support in the final chapters of life to the patient as well as their loved ones in our article here

9. Where to Get Palliative Care in Singapore?

Palliative care can be provided at home or institutions such as a hospital, a hospice facility or a senior care centre. Depending on the assessed care needs, palliative care can be in-patient or out-patient service. While choices are available, the decision of where to receive palliative care is perhaps best made according to the patient's preferences, family resources, among other considerations. 

You and your loved ones deserve palliative care that prioritises your physical and psychological well-being. If you’re looking for the high quality palliative care at home in Singapore, Ninkatec offers a wide range of services for any patient in need. Our palliative care service utilises modern technology and human touch to cater to your personal needs. We specialise in home care services, and as such, are equipped to bring medical care to your door step in the most efficient manner. Whether you’re looking for specialised care, on-call caregivers, virtual assistance, or regular visits from palliative doctors and nurses, Ninkatec provides all the essentials and so much more.

10. What does Ninkatec Offer?

From basic home care to complete acute care solutions, Ninkatec offers three care plans for you to choose from depending on your needs. Ninkatec is partnered with some of the most reputable palliative doctors, nurses, caregivers and other professionals including laboratories, so you can rest easy knowing you are in good hands. 

Ninkatec Palliative Care Plans

At Ninkatec, we focus on home care that truly makes a difference. We have looked after palliative care patients with conditions such as cancer, dementia, heart failure who have chosen to be cared for at home. Our service package includes:

  • An initial assessment by the Doctor
  • A set of remote monitoring tools for our care team to keep close watch on the condition of your loved ones
  • A messaging service to ensure you and your family can reach us when the Hospital or Clinics are unable to accommodate
  • A dedicated number to reach the physician when the situation calls for it

Besides providing clinical care, Ninkatec also ensures that you are equipped with what your loved ones need. This includes nurse visits, caregiver services, as well as equipment rental that may otherwise be scarce and costly in other settings.

The Palliative Care Your Loved One and Family Need

Getting diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition can be difficult for you and your loved ones. From medical treatments and caregiving to therapy, recovery and finance, dealing with an illness requires a lot of effort from the patient and family members involved. Palliative care is a specialised care service that provides you with all the options you need to make the best out of your situation. No matter what you are dealing with, having access to the right palliative service can do wonders for you and your loved ones. 

Connect with Ninkatec Care team via call, chat, email or the form below to find out if palliative care suits your situation and what are the best care options. Regardless of the condition and stage, you will be treated with the utmost care, respect, and attention you deserve. 


Contact Us Today For An Assessment

We help you provide the best home care to your loved ones!
Main Contact Form

As per guidance under the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) of Singapore, please provide us with your acknowledgement below.

Related articles

(65) 6802 7972 (In-clinic services)
(65) 6247 9247 (At-home & tele-consultation services)

Ninkatec also operates in-clinic GP services under Charazoi Medical Clinic, and caregiver services under Comfort Keepers Singapore. Visit our sister websites to find out more.

Are You A Doctor?

Patients are in need of right doctors like you. Join Ninkatec Partner Network to reach new patients and grow your practice.
Express Interest
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram