Palliative care is treatment, care and support to help people with a life-limiting illness live as fully and as comfortably as possible. A life-limiting illness is an illness that can't be cured and that a person is likely to die from.
Palliative care support is based around your needs and choices. This approach to care focuses on managing symptoms while providing comfort and safety. This may include physical, social, emotional, spiritual and cultural care.
Palliative care doesn't provide a cure for illness, but it may be offered alongside other therapies which are intended to prolong life. If needed palliative care can be provided over many years. Palliative care can begin at any stage in an illness and continues for as long as you require it.
Palliative care can be provided to people of all ages, including children, if they have an active, progressive, or advanced illness. Illness might include cancer, end stage heart, lung or kidney disease, neurolgical conditions and end stage dementia, as well as other chronic illnesses.
Palliative care can help to provide you and your family or carers with support and reassurance. This can include helping you live with uncertainty and always considering your quality of life. It can help you with with symptoms that might include pain, shortness of breath, feeling sick (nausea), nervousness or agitation. Support for families and caers can be available at all times including after the end of someone's life. This might include bereavement services.
It is important that people have the opportunity to discuss and share their preferences for the end of life. NSW Health has developed resources and easy read resources to assist in these discussions.
Palliative care is everyone's business and can be provided by a variety of health workers in different locations. This can include doctors, nurses, and allied health workers. Allied health workers can include social workers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, psychologists, speech pathologists and dietitians.
Some people may also receive support from specialist palliative care teams, who only provide this type of care. Such teams are found:
Many people want to be cared for at home. In-home support is available for people who wish to remain at home to die. This might include equipment, home visits and other support.
You can receive care in different locations, depending on your needs at the time. The location you receive it in will depend on your choice, and the services available in your local area, which may vary. Using virtual care, health workers can also support you through phone or video call when you are at home. Support for palliative care patients, their carers and families is also available through the Healthdirect helpline. The Helpline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.