Referral to other health care services 

Referral to and from other health services and health professionals is common within the Primary Health Care setting. Knowing when to refer patients to other services is an important part of most pathways. This both optimises care by ensuring access to services is appropriate and avoids unnecessary referrals. For the patient wanting to remain within their community this can have a major impact on quality of life. Read more from palliAGED.

Common referral points

In palliative care these referral points are likely to include:

  • Referral to pharmacist for home medication reviews
  • Referral to allied health professionals including speech therapist (swallowing and speech issues), occupational therapist (assistance with activities of daily living).
  • Complex needs requiring referral to specialist palliative care
  • Acute care in case of emergency
  • Residential aged care or respite services.

Referral triggers for specialist palliative care

There is no single agreed set of criteria for referral to specialist palliative care services. However, it is generally suggested that referral should be based on patient characteristics including age, diagnosis, and limited life-expectancy as well as individual patient needs and symptoms. [1] In the following you will find links to referral forms and information on accessing palliative care services in Australia. This is not an exhaustive list but provides examples of requirements for referral.

  1. de Nooijer K, Penders YW, Pivodic L, Van Den Noortgate NJ, Pype P, Van den Block L. Specialist palliative care services for older people in primary care: A systematic review using narrative synthesis. Palliat Med. 2020 Jan;34(1):32-48. doi: 10.1177/0269216319874978. Epub 2019 Sep 28.
  2. Chang YK, Kaplan H, Geng Y, Mo L, Philip J, Collins A, Allen LA, McClung JA, Denvir MA, Hui D. Referral Criteria to Palliative Care for Patients With Heart Failure: A Systematic Review. Circ Heart Fail. 2020 Sep;13(9):e006881. doi: 10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.120.006881. Epub 2020 Sep 9.
  3. Mo L, Geng Y, Chang YK, Philip J, Collins A, Hui D. Referral criteria to specialist palliative care for patients with dementia: A systematic review. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2021 Mar 2. doi: 10.1111/jgs.17070. Epub ahead of print.

Last updated 03 September 2021