The view that palliative care should move beyond cancer is widely endorsed, however, there remains a lack of clarity about the level at which this should occur. In order to target the palliative approach effectively, the value of more detailed and localized needs assessment becomes apparent. This paper provides evidence from a study commissioned by a department of public health, where the focus was the palliative care needs of an individual with chronic obstructive airways disease (COAD). Over a six-month period, 63 individuals in the district were interviewed about their experiences of living with COAD and the services utilized, using a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods. The findings revealed a poor quality of life, relating to a high degree of social isolation and emotional distress, associated with low physical functioning and disability, and physical symptoms. Current service provision focused on acute exacerbations. Consequently, there is a need to manage the health and social care interface more effectively, with a shift in emphasis from reactive ad hoc provision, which is where the palliative approach to care could be best suited to meet the needs identified.