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Palliative Care

There comes a time when a person living with a serious illness approaches their end of life and may require additional support. This guide covers what you need to know about end-of-life care and how to get care.

Palliative care not only supports patients, but also their friends and families (Source: Shutterstock)
Palliative care not only supports patients, but also their friends and families (Source: Shutterstock)

At any stage into a serious illness, the primary goal of palliative care is to provide supportive care and improve the patient's quality of life by addressing any painful or distressing symptoms.

It can be an important component of the treatment for long-term progressive conditions such as cancer, parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS) and heart disease.

✽ Did you know: Palliative care is also known as comfort care, supportive care or symptom management.

Palliative care is compared to the foundation of a bridge.
While illness may weaken the foundation, palliative care provides a stronger layer of support.

Family and friends won't be forgotten

Palliative care not only supports patients, but also their friends and families. This allows them to make customised plans to reflect their preferences.

Psychological, social and spiritual support, among many others, can be requested.

Bereavement counselling helps family and friends cope during and after the illness.
Bereavement counselling helps family and friends cope during and after the illness.

It’s available in your most suitable setting

The care may be received at home, in hospital, at a care centre, and many other settings.

We've made it our mission to show you as many palliative care outlets as possible on our website.

Palliative care has three care levels

Not everyone with a life-limiting illness requires specialist palliative care services.

To help define the level of care patients require, Palliative Care Australia has divided the service into three subgroups:

Care level Advice given by Services given by

1. Primary care

For people who only require services from their primary health care professional(s).

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Health care professional(s)
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Health care professional(s)

2. Intermediate care

Advice is provided by specialist palliative care services but care is still given by health care professional(s).

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Specialists
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Professionals

3. Complex care

This group requires care from specialist practitioners. They are commonly referred to specialist palliative care services where they will receive the required care.

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Specialists
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Specialists

Hospice helps patients in their final stages

Hospice care is an advanced form of palliative care that is provided when traditional therapies fail to control the disease. At this stage the focus is on caring, not curing.

Not only doctors provide palliative care

Some of the professions include:

  • Palliative care doctors
  • Nurses
  • Social workers
  • Psychologists
  • Pastoral care workers
  • Dietitians
  • Bereavement counsellors
  • Volunteers and coordinators of volunteers
  • Physiotherapists
  • Other therapists (such as speech / music / reminiscence)
There are many specially trained professionals involved in palliative care.
There are many specially trained professionals involved in palliative care.

It’s available to all Australians in need

All Australians, regardless of age, living with a serious illness such as cancer or dementia have access to skilled palliative care services.

Thanks for reading! We welcome your feedback to help improve this information for others.

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