The why and when of palliative care

Hospital Chaplains

Palliative care is for anyone who has been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness that cannot be cured.

For some people, palliative care may be required from the time of diagnosis and provided alongside the treatments given by other doctors in managing the symptoms of the illness.

Palliative care may be provided by a wide range of people, this may include your GP, aged care worker, cardiologist and any other health care provider, as well as family and other carers. They are supported by specialist palliative care services if or when symptoms become difficult to manage.

Palliative care is provided where the person and their family wants, where possible. This may include:

  • At home
  • In hospital
  • In a hospice
  • In a residential aged care facility

Many people indicate a preference 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.

Palliative care is not just care provided in the final stages of life, but will help you to live well with a terminal illness. Sometimes palliative care can be of benefit for a person at the time of their initial diagnosis of a life-limiting condition, or it may be useful on and off through various stages of an illness. Many people have long-term interactions with their palliative care team, seeing them during the course of their illness.

There are many elements to palliative care that may involve many health professionals who all bring a range of skills to help you manage your illness.

For children and young adults, palliative care may be care that is accessed throughout their lives. Many with a degenerative condition will build strong relationships with their carers through the time they spend together.

For information on other palliative care services in NSW, visit your local health district webpage or the links below.​​​​​​​​​​​​ 

Additional resources

Living with the knowledge that death is close at hand can take a huge emotional toll. These resources will help you through the experience of facing death.