Cancer information for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander People

What is palliative care?

Palliative care means looking after people with a terminal illness. This is an illness that can’t be cured and will eventually end life.

Palliative care brings together many different services and people, which include:

  • family doctor
  • palliative care doctor or nurse
  • Aboriginal hospital liaison officer
  • Aboriginal health worker
  • health and community care (HACC) worker
  • spiritual healer
  • family and community.

How can palliative care help me?

It can provide comfort and support by:

  • helping make you comfortable for as long as possible
  • managing problems such as pain
  • making the house safer
  • offering emotional support.

When do I have it?

You can have palliative care at any time. It is not just for the last weeks of life.

Palliative care will not be used to end life.

Who organises palliative care?

Usually your doctor or nurse.

Do I have to pay for it?

Palliative care services are generally free. You may have to pay for the hire of special equipment, medications, dressings or treatment.

Where do I have palliative care?

You can have it at home, in a hospital or at a hospice (palliative care unit). A hospice is a place more like a home than a hospital where you can be cared for by trained staff.

You can move between these places if your needs change. You can stay for a short or long time.

Often the person and their family and friends can choose where to have palliative care. It may depend on what is available in your area.

If you are cared for at home, special services can help you and your family with medical support, nursing care and equipment hire.