Rehabilitative palliative care

Rehabilitative Palliative Care: Enabling people to live fully until they dieEmbedding a rehabilitative approach to palliative care within services is an important consideration for all hospices. Not only does this approach enable people with life-limiting and terminal conditions to live as independently and fully as possible, it allows hospices to respond to increasing demand for their services in a cost-effective way.

Working with colleagues from St Joseph’s Hospice and St Christopher’s Hospice, we have developed a publication which offers a rational and guidance for adopting ‘rehabilitative palliative care’ – an interdisciplinary approach which integrates rehabilitation, enablement, self-management and self-care into the holistic model of palliative care.

Why bother with rehabilitative palliative care?

Hospices are facing a time of unprecedented change, and rehabilitative palliative care presents fresh thinking on how they can prepare to be fit for now and the future.

The demand for hospice support is forecast to dramatically increase over the next 20 years and the needs of the population hospices support are changing. People are living longer, with (frequently multiple) chronic illnesses which are complicated further by increased disability, frailty and dependency in the years and months preceding death.

Rehabilitative palliative care is centred on patients' personal goals and provides a culture of enablement, through which the multidisciplinary hospice team support patients to achieve their priorities. It optimises choice, independence, autonomy and dignity.

Rehabilitative palliative care has potential to reduce disability and dependence, both on families but also on hospices and health and social care services. This helps to reduce costs by:

  • Reducing the need for hospital admission.
  • Supporting earlier discharge from hospital or hospice services.
  • Decreasing or delaying the need for authority-funded care including admission to nursing or residential homes.

Hospices cannot afford to overlook these benefits.

Implementing rehabilitative palliative care

Rehabilitative palliative care: enabling people to live fully until they die’ provides evidence of the benefits and effectiveness of rehabilitative palliative care, and includes a range of resources to support its implementation. The publication offers:

  • An insight into patients’ personal priorities for care.
  • A range of professional perspectives on how a rehabilitative approach can best support patients’ goals and aspirations to live life fully.
  • An assessment of the economic value of rehabilitative palliative care.
  • Examples of innovation and good practice in rehabilitative palliative care from across the UK.
  • checklist to engage hospice boards, senior managers and the wider multiprofessional workforce to assess their readiness to adopt rehabilitative palliative care and guide tangible actions to implement it – both now and for the future.

Download the publication from the resources section, where you will also find the checklist as a separate document, infographics and videos showing rehabilitative palliative care.


We would like to thank Burdett Trust for Nursing for supporting the development of the publication.

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