An emphasis on quality of life

Palliative care helps people live their life as fully and as comfortably as possible when living with a life-limiting or terminal illness. Definitions of palliative care can vary, however, the definition defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has been broadly adopted in the Australian Government National Palliative Care Strategy 2018. [1]

As people approach the end of life, they may have physical, emotional, spiritual, or social care needs. [2] Palliative care supports quality of life by attending to the needs of the person and their family in line with individual preferences and goals of care. Management of symptoms such as pain, anxiety, and breathing difficulties will enable the person to live life and focus on what is important to them.

National Palliative Care Strategy 2018

The models of palliative care in Australia range from specialist palliative care provided in hospitals or as ambulatory services, to hospice and community-based care including primary care. [3] Most people will be cared for by their generalist health professional team and informal carers including partners and family. For people with more complex needs, specialist palliative care may be needed.

Even though cure is no longer the aim, the health professionals will continue to discuss and provide available care options and outline planning decisions that may need to be made. This can range from where a person can and wants to be cared for through to what treatment they want to receive and where they want to die. As the illness progresses a person’s preferences or circumstances can change. Being informed and understanding what is happening and what to expect helps people to make decisions as needed or in advance.

Access to evidence-based information and resources helps health and care professionals to provide best practice quality care. By aligning this with the person’s preferences and goals palliative care provides person-centred care for people approaching the end of their life.

In this section you can learn more about palliative care in Australia. Because the use of acronyms is common in Australia, we have also created a list of some of the most frequently used in palliative care.

  1. Australian Government Department of Health. National Palliative Care Strategy 2018. Canberra: Australian Government Department of Health; 2018 Dec.
  2. Palliative Care Australia. National Palliative Care Standards (358kb pdf). 5th ed. Griffith (ACT): Palliative Care Australia; 2018.
  3. Catholic Health Australia (CHA). Palliative Care in the Catholic Sector (788kb pdf). Canberra: CHA; 2019.