- Cancer Information
- Advanced cancer
- Palliative care
- What is palliative care?
- How palliative care works
How palliative care works
Palliative care supports the needs of people with a life-limiting illness in a holistic way. It aims to improve your quality of life and make the time you have as valuable as it can be for you and your family.
Person-centred careThe palliative care team will work in partnership with you assess what you need and make suggestions about treatment and ongoing care. Your care goals may change over time.
Where care is providedThe health professionals in the palliative care team will work with you and your carers to help plan the best place for your care. This may be at home supported by community palliative care services, in hospital, at a residential aged facility or in a palliative care unit (hospice).
When to startPalliative care is useful at all stages of advanced cancer and can be given alongside active treatment for cancer. Starting palliative treatment from the time of diagnosis can help improve your quality of life.
Who provides careYour palliative care team is made up of people with different skills to help you with a range of issues. Your care may be led by your general practitioner (GP), nurse practitioner or community nurse, or if your care needs are complex, by a specialist palliative care team.
Support servicesThe palliative care team will help you work out how to live in the most fulfilling 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.
Family and carersWith your agreement, the palliative care team will involve your family and carers in decisions about care. They will also provide them with emotional support and referrals to counselling, grief support, respite, and financial assistance.
Symptom reliefPalliative treatment can help you manage symptoms related to the cancer or its treatment, such as pain, appetite loss, shortness of breath or fatigue.
Advance care planningThe palliative care team will support you to think about, discuss and record your values, goals and preferences for future care and treatment.
EquipmentIf you want to remain at home, the team can identify equipment to help you with your daily activities and make it easier for your carers to look after you.
Video: 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.
Podcast for people affected by advanced cancer
Dr Cynthia Parr, Specialist in Palliative Care, HammondCare and Macquarie University Hospital, NSW; Dr Lisa Cuddeford, Clinical Lead, WA Paediatric Palliative Care Service, WA; Dr Laura Kirsten, Principal Clinical Psychologist, Nepean Cancer Care Centre, 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; A/Prof Peter Poon, Director, Supportive and Palliative Care, Monash Health, and Adjunct Associate Professor, Monash University, VIC; Dr Kathy Pope, Radiation Oncologist, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Kate Reed-Cox, Nurse Practitioner National Clinical Advisor, Palliative Care Australia; Juliane Samara, Nurse Practitioner, Clare Holland House – Specialist Palliative Aged Care, Calvary Public Hospital, ACT; Annabelle Solomon, Consumer; Silvia Stickel, Consumer; Kaitlyn Thorne, Manager, PalAssist, Cancer Council Queensland; Kim Vu, Consumer; Rosie Whitford, Social Worker – Grief, Bereavement and Community Palliative Care, Prince of Wales Hospital, NSW.
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