Professional health workers


Your doctor or treating specialist (if you are using one) is likely to be co-ordinating your care in the first instance. This doctor will oversee your care at home, liaise with the community nurse and refer you to other support people if needed.

If and when your care becomes difficult for your own doctor to manage they may refer you to specialist palliative care doctor or team and if necessary, arrange your admission to a hospital, palliative care unit or hospice.

Palliative care specialists are doctors who can prescribe treatment for your symptoms, liaise with your oncologist and doctor and refer you to other services. These doctors may or may not be part of a specialist palliative care team or service.


Palliative care nurses may either work for the community nursing service or in a specialist palliative care team. They may monitor your symptoms and help you with your medications, dressings, personal hygiene and day-to-day care.

To access community nurses who do palliative care, ask your doctor to refer you or contact them through your local community health centre.

Social workers

Social workers can provide social and emotional support to you, your carers and your family. They can help you find services such as in-home respite care, meal deliveries, personal alarms, laundry services and financial assistance.

Counsellors and psychologists

These mental health workers can help you with relationship or family issues, show you ways of dealing with anxiety and depression, and provide grief counselling to your family and caregivers.

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Life, Hope & Reality was developed and written by Afaf Girgis, Claire Johnson, and Sylvie Lambert with funding from the NHMRC and Cancer Council NSW.

Last updated 30 August 2015