- Cancer Information
- Advanced cancer
- Facing end of life
- Caring for someone nearing the end of life
- Providing emotional support
- Making arrangements
As death approaches, speak to the palliative care team about what to expect, and start thinking about making suitable arrangements. You may want to consider the following.
Ask the person whether a clergy member or other spiritual leader or practitioner should be at the bedside, and what rituals or ceremonies should be performed.
Ask the person whether they’d like visitors in their final days and who to call after the death.
Notify the chosen funeral home that a death is expected soon. Some people want to have the body at home for several days, so let the funeral home know if this is your wish.
Find out what the person would like done with their body after death or if they’d like to donate tissue or organs. Some people have strong views about whether they want to be buried or cremated, what sort of ceremony they want, and what type of memorial they would like.
Ask your health professionals who to contact if complications arise at home. Your first reaction might be to call an ambulance, but an ambulance officer’s duty of care may mean they have to resuscitate. If this is something the person you are caring for would prefer didn’t happen, speak to your doctor about completing an authorised care plan for ambulance officers to follow. Contact the ambulance service in your state or territory to fill in a form so they are not compelled to resuscitate.
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.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
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