What you might need for at home palliative care 

Depending on your situation you may need specialised equipment or changes in your home to support at home palliative care. This could be for a long or short period. Talk with your health care team about what might help.

Setting your home up for palliative care may require some minor modifications. Creating a safe and workable space will help in providing care and to keep things more manageable. It will also help you and the person you care for to focus on what matters most to you. Some things to consider are listed here. You and your care team may have others.

Being prepared

  • Ask your GP what you can expect as the illness progresses.
  • Discuss medications you may require with your GP.
  • Discuss medication safety with your pharmacist and access a Webster pack if required.
  • Ensure that you have a safe place to store medications out of reach of children.
  • The health care team will include nurses, allied health, and others, keep their contact details somewhere easy to find.
  • Discuss with your GP regarding a community palliative care referral to assist you in providing palliative care at home, and access to allied health such as and an occupational therapist and social worker.
  • Ask who to contact for evenings and weekends.
  • Ask the occupational therapist or physiotherapist what changes or equipment they would suggest to help with caring.
  • There may be times when you have other responsibilities or need a break, so have a back-up plan for someone else to come and care for the person.
  • If you are caring for a person with dementia, check out the Dementia Australia app for tips on setting up your home.
  • Check what financial support is available to you.
  • Keep all information in a folder that can be referred to as needed. Include any forms you have for listing medications and contact details, as well as items such as pain diaries and care information in the one place.

Falls prevention

Setting up to provide palliative care can disrupt the usual daily routine for all family members. It is important to discuss this beforehand and as things change. Mobility can be an issue for older people and people with palliative care needs. Falls can be prevented.

Removing obstacles is important. This can include pets and trip hazards. You may also need to move around the house at night. When setting up for palliative care in the home useful general measures include:

  • Remove trip hazards such as unneeded furniture and rugs.
  • Install ramps if a wheelchair or walking frame are to be used.
  • Place night-lights where needed.
  • Install stair guards if appropriate.

Setting up the bedroom

Your palliative care team can help to arrange a hospital bed for your home if needed. Think about where you want the bed. If the bedroom is too far away from the rest of the household or located upstairs, you may want to set the bed up elsewhere. A lighter bed in the living areas might be a solution if the person can move around and use their bedroom at night. Some other tips and things to consider include:

  • Installing a bed rail.
  • Installing a bed tray that can be positioned for meals and other activities.
  • Providing access to a light or lamp that can be easily reached if needed.
  • Setting up a call button/bell/pager so that the person can get your attention if needed.
  • Access to a personal alarm.
  • Placing a chair close to the bed for the person or visitors to use.
  • If needed, setting up a bedside commode to make toileting easier.
  • Access to personal or comfort items – pillows or special blankets.
  • Clearing bedroom of clutter/ furniture and leaving enough room for ambulatory aids/equipment.

Setting up the bathroom

Bathrooms are a common place for falls to occur. Arranging for easy and safe access to the toilet and bathroom is important. Things you can do include:

  • Safety rails in shower
  • Shower chair
  • A non-slip mat for the shower or bath area
  • Safety rails near toilet
  • Consider rehanging the door to open outwards so that if a fall happens the door is not blocked
  • If access to a bathroom is difficult ask if a portable shower can be arranged.

Creating a comfortable space

Setting up the area to be comfortable will help the person being cared for to relax and to retain some independence. Try:

  • Positioning within easy reach entertainment options such as music, books, or television.
  • Provide access to food and drink.
  • Provide comfortable cushions and lightweight blankets.
  • Adding a bedside table that is easily reached.

Equipment for home care

Most States and Territories have an equipment fund to help you access what you need. Visit the Services and Support page to learn more for your state or territory:

Last updated 26 April 2024