Palliative care - frequently asked questions

Is palliative care the same as end of life care?

Is palliative care the same as end of life care?

One of the roles of the Palliative Care team is to provide end of life care, which is care of a person and family when the person is actively dying in the next few days or weeks.
But palliative care is broader than end of life care. We work with patients and families to control symptoms such as pain, nausea or breathlessness and many others, even if treatment of the disease causing the symptoms is still taking place.

We also provide advice on decision making and treatment choices, and support to keep the patient out of hospital and at home, if that is where they want to be.

Who is palliative care for?

Palliative care is for people of any age who have been told that they have a serious illness that cannot be cured. Palliative care assists people with illnesses such as cancer, motor neurone disease and end-stage kidney or lung disease and many others to manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

For some people, palliative care may be beneficial from the time of diagnosis with a serious life-limiting illness. Palliative care can be given alongside treatments given by other doctors.

Where can I have palliative care?

There are four main locations:

  • In your home, or in a residential care facility, you can get visits from a community palliative care team.
  • You could be able to see our team as an outpatient, for example by visiting an outpatient clinic in a hospital
  • You can be seen by a consultation team while you are an inpatient in a hospital, being looked after by another team like the acute medical team or oncology team
  • You can be looked after by our team in an inpatient palliative care bed. Sometimes this is called an inpatient palliative care unit, or a hospice. We do not provide long term care however. If a person’s condition stabilises and they don’t need inpatient palliative care any more, the person will go home or to a residential care facility if home is not possible.

How do I get palliative care?

If you are at home or in a residential care facility, you can ask your GP or search for the local team in your area by visiting the Directory of Services - Palliative Care Australia.

If the person needing palliative care is in an acute hospital, you can ask the team treating them to make a referral to the palliative care team.