What is palliative care?
Palliative care starts when a decision is made to focus on quality of life instead of ongoing treatment of an illness. Many services that are part of palliative care are also part of end of life care. End of life care refers to the last weeks and days of life.
Palliative care supports people who are dying, as well as their families and carers, to increase comfort and decrease distress.
Usually, a patient will be referred to a palliative care team by their treating team or GP. Otherwise, you can talk to your GP or contact a disease-specific organisation such as the Cancer Council. Remember, everyone is entitled to access palliative care information and make decisions about their health care during palliative care.
Palliative Care Victoria lists the key areas that palliative care covers:
Physical care: the palliative care team can work with your GP and treating team to manage complex pain and other symptoms.
Quality of life: palliative care is about improving your quality of life. This includes understanding what matters to you and how best to meet your physical, social, emotional, cultural and spiritual needs.
Support for families and carers: caring for someone who is dying can be very tiring, both physically and emotionally. It is important for carers to look after themselves and get support.
Grief: grief is a natural response to facing your own death, or the death of someone close to you. Everyone experiences grief in their own way and time.
You can search Precious Time for specific services in these areas. You can also ask your GP, treating team or palliative care team about specific needs.
This information is general guidance and may not be applicable to your specific circumstances. For personal advice, please contact a medical or legal practitioner or a spiritual, cultural or community leader.
This content was written for people in Victoria, Australia. Laws and practices differ in other states, territories and countries.