Palliative care affirms life and regards dying as a natural process. Below are answers to some of the more frequently asked questions, helping to provide a better understanding of palliative care.
Palliative care can be available to people from the time they are first diagnosed with a life-limiting illness. People can receive palliative care for a long time before they die and may receive it at the same time as they receive treatment, sometimes referred to as supportive palliative care.
Not at all. Palliative care is available to people diagnosed with a life-limiting illness and is often provided in conjunction with active treatment. Palliative care can provide you with the support and tools you need to help ensure that you can meet your goals of care and fight for quality of life.
Palliative care aims to provide the best quality of life until the person dies. Early access to palliative care provides a person with the ability to control their symptoms more effectively and build a therapeutic relationship with their healthcare team and in some cases, has been proven to actually prolong life.
Palliative care is person and family-centred care and will vary depending on each individual’s needs and circumstances. Palliative care offers pain and relief of symptoms associated with a life-limiting illness including breathlessness. Palliative care can also include medication management; advice about food and nutrition, mobility and sleeping; support for emotional, social and spiritual concerns; counselling and grief support; and assistance for families and carers.
Not everyone with a life-limiting illness will experience pain. Most pain can be relieved or controlled. Bringing pain under control means assessing all aspects of pain, monitoring and managing it. Effectively, this lets you carry on with your life and live as well as you can.
Palliative care can be provided by a number of different health professionals, depending on:
- The needs of the patient
- The resources and needs of the family and carers.
Many health professionals may be involved in delivering palliative care and generally they will work as part of an interdisciplinary team. A palliative care team may include:
- General practitioners
- Specialist palliative care doctors and nurses
- Specialist doctors – oncologists, cardiologists, neurologists, respiratory physicians, geriatricians, surgeons
- Allied health professionals – pharmacists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, dieticians
- Social workers
- Grief and bereavement counsellors
- Pastoral care workers
Palliative care is provided where the person and their family wants to be, where possible. This may include:
- palliative care outpatients facility
- residential aged care facility
- disability care home
- general practice or primary health care clinic
Most palliative care services are free, but there may be some costs associated with hospice and hospital care. Charges can vary depending on your state/or territory, your geographical location and the type of care you are seeking.
Read more about the costs of palliative care here or discuss with your health care professional.