For Families & Patients

Palliative care supports people with a life-limiting illness and their families to live, die and grieve well.

Palliative care helps you to live well with an serious illness that is likely to shorten your life. It aims to make you comfortable, improve your quality of life, and support family and friends caring for you. It also provides choices and helps you to make important decisions about your care.

Here are some answers to common questions about palliative care.

FAQ

Palliative care helps people living with serious illnesses that are likely to shorten their life. For example: heart, lung and kidney diseases, motor neurone disease, cancer, and dementia.

People of all ages, cultures and beliefs can benefit from palliative care, which respects their needs and wishes.

Palliative care offers expert care to relieve a person's pain and suffering, and to respond to their social, emotional, cultural, and spiritual needs. Support is also available to family and friends providing care.

You can ask for palliative care any time from your diagnosis and throughout your illness. It can help with pain and other symptoms and improve your quality of life at any time during your illness. Palliative care may increase, reduce or stop, as your needs change. It is not limited to the last days or weeks of life.

Health professionals work together to provide palliative care. They include your GP, specialist doctors, nurses, social workers, physiotherapists, occupational and speech therapists, spiritual carers and volunteers. Who is involved in your care will depend on your needs.

Most palliative care is provided where people usually live, such as at home or in a care facility. It is also provided in hospitals and in hospices (special units to provide palliative care). Some hospices offer day programs as well.

You can search for a palliative care service near you on this website.

Ask your GP or your specialist doctor to refer you to a palliative care service. A doctor's referral is essential for palliative care in hospital.

In Victoria, you can request assistance from a community palliative care service without a doctor's referral. They will ask questions about your situation and explain the next steps.

If you need help to find assistance, call Palliative Care Victoria T 03 9962 9644 during business hours.

Most palliative care services are free. There may be some costs for medicines or supplies depending on your needs, if these are not fully funded by Government. Private palliative care services charge fees. It's a good idea to ask about costs. If you have health insurance, ask if they cover palliative care.