Palliative care is care that can help anyone who has a serious incurable illness or very frail. It focuses on quality of life for a person with a life limiting illness and includes symptom management, family support, end of life care and bereavement support.
Palliative care does not mean you are at the end of your life. It helps you have the best quality of life, no matter what other treatments you are being given. Palliative care can:
- help you have the best quality of life for as long as possible
- make sure your physical, social, cultural and spiritual needs are met
- support your family and carers
- help you make decisions about your care.
Palliative care can be separated into primary palliative care which is also referred to as end of life care, and specialist palliative care. You may hear the term Comfort Care in some settings. This refers to the care that is provided as part of end of life and palliative care.
Everyone has a right to receive palliative care and good end of life care. This care is delivered in a number of places and your GP is the first point of contact for this care.
Specialist palliative care is delivered when symptoms and situations are complex in nature. These services are available at home or residential aged care facility, as an outpatient appointment or in the specialist palliative care unit.
In hospital most people have end of life care provided by their ward treating team. Where symptoms are not able to be managed by the ward teams, specialist palliative care services are available to assess patients and support the ward treating team with guidance on the most appropriate care.