Palliative care is a model of care that aims to improve quality of life (QOL) for patients and their families/carers who are facing the challenges associated with a life limiting illness (WHO, 2012). Until recently, palliative care has been seen to be largely focused on the medical management of specific symptoms, with little or no consideration given to the patient's occupational identity and goals.
Occupational therapy is a profession whose core philosophy is grounded in occupational participation. Occupational therapists have the skills and expertise to incorporate an individual's occupational performance goals into their treatment plan, thereby helping people to participate in personally meaningful occupations, within the limitations of their illness and physical capacity.
The present article aims to illustrate (using case-study examples) how personally meaningful occupational participation can better support an acute model of palliative care practice, resulting in better patient outcomes and improved quality of life for both patients and their carers.