Palliative care

Palliative care

Palliative care (sometimes called supportive care) addresses the needs of people with a life-limiting illness in a holistic way. It provides individualised care to improve your quality of life and help you stay independent for as long as possible. Palliative care may be beneficial for people at any stage of advanced cancer – it is not just for end of life.

If you have been referred to palliative care, or if you are wondering whether palliative care is right for you, you may find it helpful to read our answers to key questions. You can also find out more about palliative treatment options and palliative care for young people. You can read more about the role of palliative care and how the care is provided below.

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The role of palliative care

Palliative care is person-centred care that helps people with a progressive, life-limiting illness to live as fully and comfortably as possible. The main goal is to help you maintain your quality of life by identifying and addressing your physical, emotional, cultural, social and spiritual needs. This type of care can help from the time of diagnosis, and can be given alongside other cancer treatments. Palliative care also offers support to families and carers.

Palliative care providers

Palliative care is an approach to care that may be delivered by any of your care providers, from doctors, nurses and allied health professionals, to volunteers and carers. Together these people make up your palliative care team.

Specialist palliative care services see people with more complex needs, and also provide advice to other health care professionals. These specialist services can be accessed through many public and private hospitals, palliative care units, and community-based palliative care providers. Not everyone needs specialist palliative care.

Depending on what services are available in your area, you and your family can choose where you want to receive palliative care. This may be at your home or residential aged care facility, in a hospital or specialist palliative care unit.

Person-centred care responds to your needs, preferences and values, as well as the needs of your family and carers. It means that your health care provider will respect your care goals, and involve you in decisions about your treatment and ongoing care.

Services provided

Palliative care involves a range of services that will be tailored to your individual needs. Services may include:

  • relief of pain, breathlessness, nausea and other symptoms
  • help organising equipment for home (e.g. wheelchairs, special beds)
  • assistance for families and carers to talk about sensitive issues
  • links to other services such as home help and financial support
  • support for people to meet cultural obligations
  • counselling, grief and bereavement support
  • support for emotional, social and spiritual concerns
  • referrals to respite care services.

The palliative care team will work with you and your family to identify your care needs and care wishes, and may record these in a care plan. This plan will outline your care goals and how they will be met, as well as how any symptoms will be managed, and who to contact for help.

A care plan is not a fixed document – it should be reviewed regularly as your care needs change. It is important for your key family members or carers to be involved in any discussions about your care plan, especially if they are providing most of your day-to-day care.

What is Palliative Care?

Watch this video to see how palliative treatment aims to manage symptoms and improve people’s quality of life without trying to cure the disease.

Click on the icon below to download a PDF booklet on palliative care.

Printed copies are available for free - Call 13 11 20 to order

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.

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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”.
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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.

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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
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
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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 2019
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