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For information on the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, visit https://agedcare.health.gov.au/announcement-of-royal-commission-into-aged-care-quality-and-safety
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Palliative care

Palliative care helps people with any life-limiting illness manage symptoms and improve their quality of life. It also provides support for their family and carers.

Palliative care can include a range of support for the individual, their family, and carers including:

  • relief of pain and other symptoms
  • resources such as equipment for care at home
  • help for families to talk about sensitive issues
  • links to other services such as home help and financial support
  • support for cultural needs and traditions
  • support for emotional, social and spiritual concerns
  • counselling and grief support
  • referrals to respite care services.

Some of the common medical conditions of people needing palliative care include:

  • cancer
  • HIV/AIDS
  • motor neurone disease
  • muscular dystrophy
  • multiple sclerosis
  • end-stage dementia.

Palliative care settings and providers

Palliative care services can be provided in a range of settings including:

  • the home
  • hospices
  • aged care homes
  • hospitals
  • palliative care units.

Palliative care can be provided by specialist palliative care teams or by doctors, nurses and carers using a palliative approach to their care.

Find specialist palliative care services

For more information on palliative care services, contact:

  • your doctor, state or territory health department or community health centre
  • the National Palliative Care Service Directory for services available in your local area
  • your provider if you are receiving aged care services.

Useful resources and contacts

There are useful resources and contacts to support end-of-life planning and care, whether as a patient, a carer, a family member or a friend.

Palliative care for diverse needs

People with cultural needs may want to access palliative care and services that consider how their culture feels about dying.

Caring for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people

Specialised care services connect Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people with doctors, nurses, health professionals and liaison officers who can provide care that meets their needs. The Department of Health website has a resource kit to help people or organisations that are caring for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people provide culturally appropriate palliative care.

Caring for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

It is important that palliative care services understand the health and caring preferences of people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

It is also important that there is a clear understanding of care needs and medical treatment. You can ask for an interpreter if there are any problems communicating or understanding. The person receiving care must agree to use an interpreter as part of the decision-making process before discussions start.

Caring for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex people

When a person is nearing the end of their life, part of their care is supporting their identity, their story, relationships and needs. If sexuality is an important part of someone's identity, then it should also be an important part of their care.

It is important that palliative care services understand the health and caring preferences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people. Respectful, appropriate, confidential and well-informed health care is essential.

Support for carers

If you’re Caring for someone at the end of their life, there is emotional support, counselling or help available to you.

Last reviewed: 10 May, 2018.