Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapy in palliative care aims to enable the individual’s participation in valued and essential everyday activities (occupations), while acknowledging progressive deterioration and pending death. The focus of interventions varies according to where a person enters the health system. However, what remains a core factor is the identification of a person’s occupational priorities and working with them and their carers to meet or adjust these priorities as needed. Continual readjustment of goals as deterioration occurs is imperative.

Optimising participation and function is achieved through the prescription of assistive equipment, task analysis, adaptation and energy conservation, symptom management eg, relaxation, positioning, home modifications, and education of patients and carers. Supportive counselling, particularly in relation to functional decline and occupational loss, is a core part of a palliative care occupational therapist's practice. Interventions must be person-centred and decision making of patients and carers can be informed by OT knowledge, along with that of the multidisciplinary team where present.


Related Evidence

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Abstracts of Interest


National and International peak bodies which recognise the role of occupational therapy in palliative care:


  • This Carers Victoria Fact sheet on Allied Health Staff may be useful if explaining your role to consumers (50kb pdf)


Special Interest Groups

Australian Allied Health in Palliative Care (AAHPC) is a group developed to facilitate and promote research and to be a voice to promote and raise the profile of Allied Health in palliative care Occupational Therapy Australia: Victorian Oncology & Palliative Care Interest Group aims to support occupational therapists working in Oncology & Palliative Care, through maintaining and further developing a group that provides a range of professional development, research and networking opportunities
Last updated 28 September 2017