- Cancer Information
- Advanced cancer
- Living with advanced cancer
- Treatment for advanced cancer
- Having palliative care
Having palliative care
Many people fear hearing the words palliative care because they think it is just for people who are dying, but it’s not. Palliative care is useful at all stages of advanced cancer, and involves a range of services that can help with lots of things like pain management or getting around more easily.
What is palliative care?Palliative care is person-centred care that helps people with a progressive life-limiting illness to live as fully and as comfortably as possible. Palliative care can link you with support. For example, you may need help to move around your home more safely. The main goal is to maintain your quality of life by identifying and meeting your physical, emotional, cultural, social and spiritual needs. Pall ative care also provides support to families and carers.
Who is in a palliative care team?Your palliative care may be led by your GP or community nurse, or by the specialist palliative care team in your area. The team may include doctors, nurses, social workers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and spiritual care practitioners. They may also link you to a counsellor, psychologist or other health professionals.
Where is palliative care usually given?The palliative care team will help you work out the best place for your care. This may be at home supported by community palliative care services, in hospital, at a residential aged care facility or in a palliative care unit (hospice). Many services – including things like pain relief – are now available to you at home.
How can palliative care help?Palliative care involves a range of services that will be tailored to your individual needs. There are various ways it can help, including:
When can I start?Depending on your needs, you may use palliative care service occasionally or continuously, for a few weeks or months. The number of people receiving palliative care for several years is increasing. Contacting the palliative care team early means that you can find out what the different team members do and see which services might be useful now or in the future. This will vary according to how you feel, what problems you have, and how your carers are managing.
Where to find out moreFor information about palliative care and how it may be able to help you, visit palliativecare.org.au. To find a palliative care service in your local area, search the online directory – or you could speak to your doctor or nurse.
Dr Lucy Gately, Medical Oncologist, Alfred Health and Walter and Eliza Institute for Medical Research, VIC; Dr Katherine Allsopp, Supportive and Palliative Care Specialist, Westmead Hospital, NSW; A/Prof Megan Best, The University of Notre Dame Australia and The University of Sydney, NSW; Dr Keiron Bradley, Palliative Care Consultant, Medical Director Palliative Care Program, Bethesda Health Care, WA; Craig Brewer, Consumer; Emeritus Professor Phyllis Butow, Psychologist, The University of Sydney and Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; Louise Durham, Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner Outpatients, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Metro South Palliative Care, QLD; Dr Roya Merie, Radiation Oncologist, ICON Cancer Centre, Concord, NSW; Penny Neller, Project Coordinator, National Palliative Care Projects, Australian Centre for Health Law Research, Queensland University of Technology, QLD; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Xanthe Sansome, Program Director, Advance Care Planning Australia, VIC; Sparke Helmore Lawyers; Peter Spolc, Consumer.
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