The palliative care team

Your palliative care team will be made up of medical, nursing and allied health professionals 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. This is known as a multidisciplinary team approach. Volunteers and carers can also offer practical and emotional support, and may form an important part of your team.

You will have regular appointments with the health professionals in your team so they can monitor you and adjust your care. The most common team members are described below. You won’t necessarily see all these people – some roles overlap and assistance varies across Australia. Your GP, nurse or palliative care specialist can help you work out which services will benefit you most.

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How the team works

The people in the palliative care team work together to help meet your physical and emotional needs, and provide support to your family and carers.

Palliative care team members

palliative care team 2015

Depending on your needs, your palliative care may be coordinated by your GP or a community nurse, or you may be referred to a specialist palliative care service, where the doctors, nurses and allied health professionals are specifically trained to look after people with complex health care issues.

If you have cultural or religious beliefs about death and bereavement, or certain family customs, talk to your palliative care team early on. Your customs can often become part of your palliative care plan.


General practitioner

  • continues to see you for day-to-day health care issues if you are being cared for at home (and may be able to make home visits)
  • liaises with your nurse and/or palliative care specialist about the coordination of your ongoing care
  • refers you to a palliative care specialist or organises your admission to hospital or a palliative care unit (hospice) if your circumstances change
  • may offer bereavement support to your family and carers, and can refer them to counselling if necessary.

Nurse

  • may be a community nurse or a specialist palliative care nurse and may work for a community nursing service, a specialist palliative care service, a hospital or a residential care facility
  • coordinates other health professionals and works out what care you need, including home nursing or personal care assistance
  • makes sure you have access to medications and other treatments for pain and symptom relief, and talks to you about how to take your medications
  • can suggest practical strategies to help you manage your condition (e.g. how to plan your day).

– Carla


Palliative care specialist or physician

  • prescribes or recommends treatment for pain, nausea, constipation, anxiety, depression, shortness of breath or any other symptoms you may have
  • usually provides care in a palliative care unit (hospice) or hospital, but may also be able to visit you in your home or residential care facility
  • communicates with and advises the oncologist and your GP so your treatment is well coordinated
  • may refer you and your family to a grief counsellor or psychologist
  • assists with decision-making about care choices.

Cancer specialists (oncologists and surgeons)

  • may diagnose the advanced cancer and refer you to a specialist palliative care team
  • may continue to provide chemotherapy, targeted therapies, radiotherapy or surgery to manage the symptoms of the cancer.

Counsellor or psychologist

  • allows you to talk about any fears, worries or conflicting emotions you may be feeling
  • helps you work through feelings of loss or grief
  • assists you and your family with relationship issues
  • helps you resolve problems so that you can find more pleasure in your life
  • teaches you strategies to handle anxiety
  • may show you meditation or relaxation exercises to help ease physical and emotional pain
  • provides bereavement care to your family and carers.

Pastoral carer, chaplain or spiritual adviser

  • supports you and your family 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, if appropriate
  • connects you with other members of your faith
  • may discuss emotional issues, as many are trained counsellors.

Social worker

  • assesses what sort of support you, your family and carers need and identifies ways you can receive this support
  • provides counselling and emotional support to you, your family and carers, including working through feelings of loss and grief
  • assists with communication within the family, including any relationship issues, and with other health care professionals
  • discusses ways of coping and how to emotionally support your children or grandchildren
  • can help you work out ways to record your memories
  • provides information and referrals for legal matters, financial support, home respite care, meal services, parking schemes, personal alarms, laundry services and aged care services.

Occupational therapist and physiotherapist

  • help you manage the physical aspects of your daily activities, such as walking, bathing, and getting into and out of bed and chairs safely
  • advise you on physical aids to improve your mobility, such as a walking frame or a device to help you put on your socks
  • organise equipment hire or modifications to your house for a safer, more accessible environment
  • teach 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 in a better way, using hot and cold packs, and stimulating certain nerves in your body
  • show you how to exercise to reduce pain and stiffness, and to increase mobility and energy
  • use physical therapy to help clear congestion from your lungs
  • may work with a massage therapist to relieve stiff and sore muscles or swelling.
Read more about occupational therapists and physiotherapists

Pharmacist

  • gives you access to prescription and over-the-counter medications
  • provides information about how to take medications, and any side effects or interactions with other drugs
  • communicates with the prescribing doctor, if necessary
  • helps you with symptom management so you can achieve the best possible quality of life
  • assists you or your carer with keeping track of medications, including the costs on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

Dietitian

  • works out the best eating plan for you and your family
  • helps you choose appropriate food and nutritional supplements
  • tries to resolve any digestive issues, such as poor appetite, nausea or constipation
  • may work with a speech pathologist, who can assess and help you deal with eating and swallowing problems.

Volunteers

  • offer friendship, companionship, a non-judgemental presence and emotional support
  • provide practical support, which might include taking you shopping or to appointments, giving your carer a break, minding children, or doing basic jobs around the house
  • are most helpful when you give them specific tasks so that they don’t have to guess what you need
  • may be accessed through a palliative care service – these volunteers go through a thorough selection process that includes training and criminal history checks
  • can also be found through community volunteer groups – check with your GP or local community centre
  • can be a friend, neighbour or family member – although you may feel embarrassed about asking for help, you will probably find that many people want to do something for you.

“I enjoy helping people out, whether it’s stringing up Christmas lights or helping record someone’s life story. It’s incredibly rewarding and a pleasure to help.” 

– Cheryl

Read more about volunteers

Carers as part of the team

  • play a key role in palliative care and are considered part of the team
  • may be a spouse or an adult child, but other relatives, friends or neighbours sometimes take on a significant caring role
  • do not have to live with the person whom they support, but provide care on a regular basis
  • should work with the palliative care team to ensure they understand, and are included in, treatment decisions – the person receiving palliative care needs to give written consent for the team to have these discussions with the carer (the consent and the carer’s contact details should be formally recorded in the case file)
  • can access a range of support services through the palliative care team to help them manage throughout the illness and in bereavement. 

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Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

Need more help? Visit: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4059

Kobo

To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit: http://www.kobo.com/help/koboaura/response/?id=3784&type=3

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

Need more help? Visit: https://au.readerstore.sony.com/apps_and_devices/

Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200767340&qid=1395967989&sr=1-1
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
Need more help? Visit https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200375630

Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.

Read more about carers as part of the team

Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

Need more help? Visit: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4059

Kobo

To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit: http://www.kobo.com/help/koboaura/response/?id=3784&type=3

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

Need more help? Visit: https://au.readerstore.sony.com/apps_and_devices/

Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200767340&qid=1395967989&sr=1-1
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
Need more help? Visit https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200375630

Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.


This information was last reviewed in April 2015
View who reviewed this content
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