- Cancer Information
- Supporting someone with cancer
- Caring for someone with cancer
- Your role as a carer
- Providing medical care
Providing medical care
Carers often help with medical care. Medical care should be based around the needs, preferences and values of the person with cancer, as well as your needs as the carer.
Learn more about:
- Talking to the health care team
- Making the most of a medical appointment
- Your health care team
- Organising paperwork
- Managing medicines
- Applying for a PBS Safety Net card
- Monitoring symptoms and side effects
Talking to the health care team
As a carer, you are part of the health care team. One of your key roles is to help the person you care for communicate with their health care team and make decisions about their care. At times, you may also need to speak on behalf of the patient, if that is what the person you care for would like.
The person you are caring for must give written consent before the health care team can talk with you about their care when they are not present. This consent should be included in their medical record. Learn about what happens if the person you care for is unable to make decisions.
Most cancer centres now have multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) made up of specialist doctors, nurses and other health professionals. The MDT is there to support the person with cancer and their carers.
Try keeping a notebook to record which members of the MDT are responsible for what area of care. You might need to make the initial contact with them if it doesn’t happen automatically. Having a key contact person in the MDT to answer your questions, such as a cancer care coordinator, can help you feel more comfortable.
Dealing with health professionals can be intimidating, especially if this is new for you. You may feel overwhelmed by all the new information or working out who to talk to about different issues. Having a regular general practitioner (GP) can help you and the person you are caring for find a way through the health care system and be a source of support.
Podcast: How to Help Someone with Cancer
Dr Alison White, Palliative Medicine Specialist, Royal Perth Hospital, WA; Tracey Bilson, Consumer; Louise Dillon, Consumer; Louise Durham, Nurse Practitioner, Palliative Care Outpatients, Princess Alexandra Hospital, QLD; Katrina Elias, Carers Program, South Western Sydney Local Health District, NSW Health, NSW; Jessica Elliott, Social Worker, Youth Cancer Services, Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Brendan Myhill, Social Worker and Bereavement Research Officer, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, NSW; Penny Neller, Project Coordinator, National Palliative Care Projects, Australian Centre for Health Law Research, Queensland University of Technology, QLD; Olivia Palac, Acting Assistant Director, Occupational Therapy, Gold Coast University Hospital, QLD; Nicole Rampton, Advanced Occupational Therapist, Cancer Services, Gold Coast University Hospital, QLD; Shirley Roberts, Nurse Consultant, Medical Oncology, Northern Adelaide Cancer Centre, SA; Dr Elysia Thornton-Benko, Specialist General Practitioner, and UNSW Research Fellow, NSW; Kathleen Wilkins, Consumer; Helen Zahra, Carers Program, South Western Sydney Local Health District, NSW Health, NSW.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.