​​​​​​​​​​​What is palliative care?

​Palliative care is for anyone with a serious or chronic illness that can't be cured. This is sometimes called a life limiting illness. Palliative care is holistic and may involve emotional, social, cultural and spiritual support. It is person, family and community centred and can be offered to people of any age, including children.

You don't need to be at the end of life to receive palliative care supports - some people receive palliative care for years. It doesn't mean giving up hope or ending all treatment. Identifying palliative care needs early can help patients, families, and carers with:

  • Holding your own Journey Story, pathways, and leading a better quality of life
  • Improving social and emotional wellbeing and mental health through self-empowerment
  • Understanding the diagnosis and reducing symptoms where possible
  • ​Building knowledge to be able to make informed choices.​​
People with a life limiting illness can benefit from palliative care, particularly if they:
  • Visit the hospital a lot because of their illness
  • Have any side effects from their medications or treatments
  • Have difficulties with tasks of everyday living because of their illness
  • ​Are a carer themselves (for example having kinship responsibilities).

Palliative care can also help family and friends with practical and emotional support.​

​What is end of life care?

End of life care is the support and medical care that a person receives at the time close to their death. This can be in the last days, weeks and even months before they die.

End of life care can look different depending on preferences, needs, or choices. Some people may want to be cared for at home or on Country, others may prefer to be cared for in a hospital until the very end.

​​​What cultural support is available?

The end of life and 'Journey to Dreaming'  is culturally significant for Aboriginal people. It is a time when connections with community; Elders and ancestors; family and friends; spirit and Country can become increasingly important.

NSW Health has Aboriginal Health Workers who are trained and skilled in providing palliative and end-of-life care that is person-centred, family supported and embedded in culture. This approach supports cultural safety, diversity, self-determination, and autonomy and enables Aboriginal patients to be involved in their own decision-making, while respecting the choices of patients and families.

Aboriginal Health Workers can provide care for Aboriginal patients from the time they receive the diagnosis of a serious and life-limiting illness. Aboriginal Health Workers also provide care that extends to bereaved families as they go through Sorry Business. 

The extra layer of support that Aboriginal Health Workers provide can be accessed in hospital or at home through home visits, telehealth or virtual care. Please contact your  local health district​ palliative care team for more information on how to be linked with an Aboriginal Health Worker, or a similar Aboriginal staff member. ​

Additional information and resources ​ are available about palliative and end-of-life care for the Aboriginal Community.​

Current as at: Tuesday 5 December 2023