Understand your end-of-life care options

When you are facing a serious illness, it is important for you to understand your condition and your choices for care. Palliative care can offer you relief from symptoms and improve your ability to tolerate medical treatments. More than this, it can also assist you and your family to carry on with everyday life.

Page last updated: 23 October 2017

Palliative care is for people of any age who have a serious illness that cannot be cured. It assists people with any life-limiting illnesses such as cancer, motor neurone and end-stage kidney disease, to manage symptoms and improve their 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 offered alongside other treatments.

Do you know what options are involved in end-of-life care?

Palliative care identifies and treats symptoms such as physical, emotional, social, spiritual health and wellbeing. Care is based on the individual’s needs and may include a variety of the following services:
  • Relief of pain and other symptoms
  • Resources such as equipment needed to aid care at home
  • Assistance for families to come together to talk about sensitive issues
  • Links to other services such as home help and financial support
  • Support for cultural needs and traditions
  • Support for emotional, social and spiritual concerns
  • Counselling and grief support
  • Referrals to respite care services
Palliative care is a person-centred model of care. It can include practical and emotional support for the individual and their family, and for carers.

Palliative care involves many health professionals who all bring a range of skills to help you and your family manage your illness. These professions include, but are not limited to:
  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Social workers
  • Physiotherapists
  • Occupational and speech therapists
  • Psychologists
  • Trained volunteers

Palliative care in your home

Wherever possible, palliative care is provided in accordance with the individual’s preferences in consultation with their family and carers. This may include:
  • At home
  • In hospital
  • In a hospice
  • In a residential aged care facility
Many people prefer to die at home and making this possible often depends on several factors, including:
  • The nature of the illness and amount of care the person needs
  • How much support is available from the person’s family and community
  • Whether the person has someone at home who can provide physical care and support for them.

In this section