- Cancer Information
- Advanced cancer
- Palliative care
- Key questions about palliative care
- How does palliative care work?
How does palliative care work?
Palliative 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 make the time you have as valuable as it can be for you and your family.
|When to start|
Palliative care is useful at all stages of advanced cancer and can be provided alongside active treatment for cancer. Starting palliative treatment from the time of diagnosis can help improve your quality of life.
|Person with cancer|
The palliative care team will work in partnership with you to assess your care needs and make decisions about treatment and ongoing care. Your care goals may change over time.
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).
Your care may be led by your general practitioner (GP) or community nurse, or by specialist palliative care providers. They will be supported by a team of people with different skills to help you with a range of issues.
|Family and carers|
With your agreement, the palliative care team will involve your family and carers in decisions about care, and provide them with emotional support, including access to counselling and grief support.
If you want to remain at home, team members can help identify equipment and services to help you with your daily activities and make it easier for carers to look after you.
Team members will help you work out how to live your days in the most satisfying way you can – this might mean enjoying time with family and friends, recording your memories or reflecting on your life. They can also refer you to organisations and services that can assist with financial, emotional and practical needs.
|Advance care planning|
The team will encourage and support you to think about, discuss and record your values, goals and preferences for future care and treatment.
Palliative treatment can help you manage any symptoms, such as pain, shortness of breath or fatigue.
Prof Katherine Clark, Clinical Director, Palliative Care, Northern Sydney Local Health District Cancer & Palliative Care Network, and Conjoint Professor, Northern Clinical School, University of Sydney, NSW; Richard Austin, Social Worker, Specialist Palliative Care Service, TAS; Sondra Davoren, Manager, Treatment and Supportive Care, McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer, VIC; A/Prof Brian Le, Director of Palliative Care, Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre – The Royal Melbourne Hospital and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Cathy McDonnell, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Concord Centre for Palliative Care, Concord Hospital, NSW; Natalie Munro, Team Leader, PalAssist, QLD; Penelope Murphy, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Kate Reed, Nurse Practitioner Clinical Advisor, Palliative Care Australia; Merrilyn Sim, Consumer. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title. We particularly acknowledge the input of Palliative Care Australia and their permission to quote from €œBrian’s Story €_x009d_ in A Journey Lived – a collection of personal stories from carers (2005).
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
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