Palliative and Supportive Care
What is palliative care?
Palliative care can be given at any stage during advanced cancer. It is important to remember palliative care is not only for people in their last days and weeks of life people can live with advanced or incurable ovarian cancer for quite some time. The specialist palliative care support can be provided in your home, in hospital, in a palliative care unit or hospice setting. The services offered through palliative care will be tailored to your individual needs.
There are many benefits in thinking about palliative care when you are still well. It is important you receive the opportunity to be actively involved in and plan for your ongoing care. It can provide practical, psychological and medical comfort and support for people faced with an illness in its advanced stages.
Depending on your needs, which will change over time, a palliative care service can provide you and those close to you with:
management of pain and other difficult symptoms
specialist nursing in the home, hospital or hospice setting
nutritional care and support
assessment of and practical help with daily living including equipment to help you manage at home
emotional and spiritual support
an understanding of the physical changes and symptoms you are experiencing and how to manage these, so you are more comfortable
assistance with advance care plans
grief and bereavement counselling.
Types of palliative care services
Palliative care services are provided in a range of places. Most are provided at home by a community-based specialist palliative care service or a community nurse who visit people in their own homes. Community-based specialist palliative care services can provide excellent support. They usually provide people they are supporting with a number that they can call 24 hours a day if they need to speak to a palliative care nurse. Specialist palliative care services are also provided in:
specialist inpatient palliative care units/hospices
Referrals to palliative care
You can be referred to a palliative care service by any member of your healthcare team or by your carers, or you can make direct contact with your local specialist community palliative care service yourself. You will need a doctor’s referral to be admitted to an inpatient palliative care unit. The cost of palliative care services varies according to the type of service provided, but those provided in the public health system are generally free.
More information and support
For a list of all specialist community palliative care services and specialist inpatient palliative care facilities available in your area, visit Palliative Care Australia’s website
Refer to Palliative Care Australia’s ‘Asking questions’ page to help you think about what questions to ask your healthcare team to ensure you and those close to you get the best possible care at this stage in your illness.