- Cancer Information
- Advanced cancer
- Facing end of life
- Common questions about dying
- Who can help?
Who can help?
Wherever you receive end-of-life care, the different health professionals in your palliative care team can offer a range of services to assist you. You may not need to see all of the people listed below, but understanding the different roles can help you work out what support is available and who to ask about particular issues. Your care may be coordinated by your GP, a community or hospital palliative care nurse, or the specialist palliative care team.
|GP||continues to see you for day-to-day health care issues and may coordinate your palliative care|
|specialist palliative care nurse||may work in a community or hospital setting, can provide ongoing care and may coordinate your palliative care|
|community nurse||visits you at home to supervise medical care, assesses your needs for supportive care, and works with your GP|
|palliative care specialist (physician)||treats pain and other symptoms to maximise wellbeing and improve quality of life; usually works in collaboration with your GP or palliative care nurse|
|cancer specialists (oncologists and surgeons)||may refer you to the specialist palliative care team and continue to provide cancer treatment to help manage your symptoms|
|counsellor, psychologist||help you manage your emotional response to diagnosis and treatment|
|psychiatrist||specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, can prescribe medicine and uses evidence- based strategies to manage emotional conditions|
|spiritual care practitioner (pastoral carer)||discusses any spiritual matters and helps you reflect on your life and search for meaning; if appropriate, may arrange prayer services and other religious rituals|
|pharmacist||dispenses medicines and gives you advice about dosage and side effects|
|occupational therapist||assists in adapting your living and working environment; can suggest equipment, such as a hospital bed, wheelchair and bedside commode (toilet chair)|
|physiotherapist||helps with restoring movement and mobility, and preventing further injury|
|diversional therapist||offers recreational activities to improve your wellbeing|
|dietitian||recommends an eating plan and tries to use diet to assist with digestive issues, such as nausea or constipation|
|speech pathologist||helps with communication and swallowing problems|
|social worker||links you to support services and helps you with emotional, practical and financial issues; may also be called a welfare officer|
|volunteers||can help with home or personal care and transport, and also offer companionship|
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
Dr Megan Ritchie, Staff Specialist Palliative Medicine, Palliative Care Service, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, NSW; Gabrielle Asprey, Cancer Support Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Rosemary Cavanough, Consumer; Louise Durham, Nurse Practitioner, Metro South Palliative Care Service, QLD; Tracey Gardner, Senior Psychologist, Cancer Counselling Service, Cancer Council Queensland; Karen Hall, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Linda Nolte, Program Director, Advance Care Planning Australia, VIC; Rowena Robinson, Clinical Advisor, Palliative Care Australia, ACT; Helena Rodi, Program Manager, Advance Care Planning Australia, VIC.
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