What is palliative care?
What is palliative care?
Palliative care is person and family-centred care provided for a person with an active, progressive, advanced disease, who has little or no prospect of cure and who is expected to die, and for whom the primary goal is to optimise the quality of life.
End-of-life care is the last few weeks of life in which a patient with a life-limiting illness is rapidly approaching death. The needs of patients and their carers is higher at this time. This phase of palliative care is recognised as one in which increased services and support are essential to ensure quality, coordinated care from the health care team is being delivered. This takes into account the terminal phase or when the patient is recognised as imminently dying, death and extends to bereavement care.
Palliative care is care that helps people live their life as fully and as comfortably as possible when living with a life-limiting or terminal illness.
Palliative care identifies and treats symptoms which may be physical, emotional, spiritual or social. Because palliative care is based on individual needs, the services offered will differ but may include:
- Relief of pain and other symptoms e.g. vomiting, shortness of breath
- Resources such as equipment needed to aid care at home
- Assistance for families to come together to talk about sensitive issues
- Planning for future medical treatment decisions and goals of care
- Links to other services such as home help and financial support
- Support for people to meet cultural obligations
- Support for emotional, social and spiritual concerns
- Counselling and grief support
- Referrals to respite care services
Palliative care is a family-centred model of care, meaning that family and carers can receive practical and emotional support.
Who is palliative care for?
Palliative care is for people of any age who have been told that they have a serious illness that cannot be cured. Palliative care assists people with illnesses such as cancer, motor neurone disease and end-stage kidney or lung disease to manage symptoms and improve quality of life.
For some people, palliative care may be beneficial from the time of diagnosis with a serious life-limiting illness. Palliative care can be given alongside treatments given by other doctors.
Who is in the palliative care team?
Palliative care may be provided by a wide range of people, this may include your GP, aged care worker, cardiologist and any other health care provider, as do family and other carers. They are supported by specialist palliative care services if symptoms become difficult to manage.
Where is palliative care provided?
Palliative care is provided where the person and their family wants, where possible. This may include:
- At home
- In hospital
- In a hospice
- In a residential aged care facility
Many people indicate a preference to die at home and making this possible often depends on several factors, including:
- the nature of the illness and amount of care the person needs
- how much support is available from the person’s family and community
- whether the person has someone at home who can provide physical care and support for them.
How do I get palliative care?
For help and information ask your:
- Aboriginal Health Worker
- Hospital Liaison Officer
Where can I find more information?
For more information contact the palliative care peak body in your state.
There are a lot of common misconceptions about palliative care. Answers to some of the more frequently asked questions can be found in our FAQs here.