Palliative care needs to be an integral part of health care, especially given the ageing population and the increasing incidence of chronic disease. All health professionals should have expertise in palliative care and know when to refer to specialist palliative care to assist with complex situations.
Palliative care can begin from the first diagnosis of a life limiting illness. It can be provided in tandem with treatment to manage complex pain and other physical and psycho-social symptoms with the goals of increased patient comfort and improved quality of life for the patient and their family. There are also clinical triggers for referral to palliative care for chronic conditions such as poor symptom control, frequent exacerbations and/or admissions to hospital.
Health professionals are able to seek advice from specialist palliative care consultancy services that operate in each region and in inpatient settings. They can also refer patients and families to community palliative care services. The palliative care service search on this website enables you to search by palliative care service type and location.
The Victorian Government funds 31 health services to provide 264 designated palliative care beds and 39 community palliative care services to support patients and families at their usual place of residence. There are five day hospices that provide day programs offering clinical care, respite and therapeutic activities. State-wide services are provided by the MND Association, Very Special Kids, the Victorian Paediatric Palliative Care Program and the AIDS/HIV Council. Cabrini is a private provider of palliative care.
No, palliative care is also beneficial for people with advanced heart, lung , renal and liver disease and conditions such as Motor Neurone Disease, advanced dementia, AIDs, and other conditions where their death within the next 12 months would not be a surprise. A referral to specialist palliative is desirable if there are complex symptoms or psycho-social issues that require specialised expertise.
Specialist palliative care health professionals include medical, nursing, and a broad range of allied health and other staff. They are an inter-disciplinary team that uses a person and family-centred approach to provide holistic palliative care and end of life care. They can assist other health professionals involved in the care of the patient and family by providing consultancy advice and specialised expertise, care and support. Areas of specialised expertise include: pain and symptom assessment and management, communication and advance care planning, and coping with loss, grief and bereavement.