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Palliative care can give the best possible quality of life to someone whose illness can’t be cured.

Palliative care can give the best possible quality of life to someone whose illness can’t be cured.
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Palliative care

3-minute read

Palliative care aims to give the best possible quality of life to someone who is seriously ill and expected to die. It helps people live their life as fully and as comfortably as possible.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is an attempt to look after all the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of someone with a serious illness that cannot be cured.

It does not mean the end of all treatment. It means making choices about which treatments are important, and which are not.

People can receive palliative care in almost all places where health care is provided, such as hospitals and general practices, as well as in specialist centres such as hospices, and in their own homes. Most people are cared for by their own doctor in partnership with other specialists and community palliative care nurses, in close cooperation from family and friends.

In some cases specialist palliative care services are involved, mainly for people with complicated or severe conditions.

Many palliative care services provide specific support not only for the person who is dying, but also for families and carers.

Choices

It is important to understand what palliative care can offer and the range of services available. This will allow you to make better decisions about what kind of care is suitable, where to have it, and when to make a change.

Even if you are undergoing active treatment, you can still benefit from palliative care. It’s a good idea to discuss the options with your doctor. If you have advanced disease, it’s important to discuss your prognosis, wishes, values and end of life planning with your doctor.

When someone is nearing the end of their life and comes to a hospital department such as emergency or intensive care, it’s important for them and their family to have a clear plan of the goals of care, as well as their wishes around medical treatment, so this can be discussed with the doctors.

For further information about palliative care recommendations speak to your General Practitioner or visit the Choosing Wisely Australia website.

Finding services

Your doctor, community health centre, or local health department can provide information on palliative care and other relevant care services.

Palliative care services

National and state resources

There are a range of national resources and state resources for people receiving palliative care and their carers. These government and non-government services relate to medical, financial and psychosocial support.

You can also visit the PalliAGED website for information on palliative care and end of life care and services for older Australians.

Disease-specific resources

Information from disease-specific organisations.

Are you a carer or helping someone out?

Carers are everyday people who provide unpaid and ongoing care and support to someone they know who has a disability, mental illness, drug or alcohol dependency, chronic condition, terminal illness or who is frail.

Support for carers

Find practical information and useful resources for carers on Carer Gateway. You can also learn more about carers' support and services in your state or territory through Carers Australia.

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Last reviewed: March 2019


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