Understanding Palliative CareDownload this book (pdf, 376.62 kb)
Your team will be made up of medical, nursing and allied health workers who offer a range of services to assist you, your family and carers throughout your illness, whether you are being cared for at home or in another setting.
Some roles overlap and assistance varies across NSW, but the most common health professionals are listed.
You won't necessarily see all these people - your GP, nurse or palliative care specialist will work with you to determine which services will benefit you the most.
General practitioner or family doctor
- will continue to see you for day-to-day health care issues if you are being cared for at home
- will liaise with your nurse and/or palliative care specialist about the coordination of your ongoing care
- ideally can make home visits
- can refer you to a palliative care specialist or organise your admission to hospital or a hospice if your circumstances change
- can assist your family and carers with grief issues.
- coordinates other health professionals and works out what care you need, including home nursing or personal care assistance
- makes sure you have access to medicines and other treatments for pain and symptom relief, and talks to you about how to take your medication
- helps you with practical things, such as knowing what to expect and how to pace your day.
Palliative care specialist or physician
- can prescribe or recommend treatment for pain, nausea, constipation, anxiety, depression or delirium, and any other symptoms you may have
- can visit you in your home, as well as in hospital, a residential care facility or hospice
- communicates with and advises the oncologist and your GP so your treatment is well coordinated
- can refer you and your family to a grief counsellor or a psychologist
- assists with decision-making about care choices.
- encourages you to talk about any fears, worries or conflicting emotions you may be feeling
- helps you to work through feelings of loss or grief
- can assist you and your partner with relationship issues
- helps you resolve problems so that you can find more pleasure in your life
- teaches you strategies to handle any anxiety you have
- may show you meditation or relaxation exercises to help ease physical and emotional pain
- can help you to communicate better with your family
- provides bereavement care to your family and carers.
Pastoral carer or spiritual adviser
- supports you in talking about any spiritual matters on your mind
- reflects with you about your life and helps you search for its meaning, if appropriate
- helps you to feel hopeful and develop ways to enjoy your life despite your illness
- may organise special prayer services for you
- can bring you into contact with other members of your faith
- may discuss general emotional issues, as many are trained counsellors.
- provides counselling and gives you and your family emotional support
- discusses ways of coping and how to emotionally support your children
- may help you to work out who among your friends, family and neighbours you can ask to become your support team
- tells you about useful services such as home respite care, meal services, the mobility parking scheme, personal alarms, laundry services, and aged care services
- helps you access financial support you're entitled to.
Occupational therapist and physiotherapist
- can help make the physical aspects of your daily activities easier, such as walking, showering, and getting into and out of bed and chairs safely
- can help organise equipment hire or modifications to your house for a safer, more accessible environment
- teach your carers and family the best ways to move you or help you sit and stand
- assist with pain relief techniques such as positioning your body appropriately, using hot and cold packs, and stimulating nerves
- advise you on physical aids to improve your mobility, such as a walking frame or a device to help you put on your socks
- show you how to exercise to reduce pain and stiffness, and to increase mobility and energy
- may also work with a massage therapist for relief of stiff and sore muscles or swelling.
- works out the best eating plan for you and your family
- helps you choose appropriate food and nutritional supplements
- tries to resolve any digestive disturbances, such as poor appetite, nausea or constipation
- assesses and helps you deal with any eating and swallowing problems.
- Go shopping or run errands for you
- Take you to appointments
- Offer companionship
- Do basic jobs around the house and garden
- Provide respite for family and carers.