Supporting Families and Caregivers

Key points

  • In order to provide good care at home, family and carers need support, which may include:
    • Information about the patient’s medical condition, what to expect and how to help with symptoms
    • Practical information and skills for looking after a person who is deteriorating
    • Aids and equipment to help nurse the person at home
    • Encouragement to take breaks and care for their own health and wellbeing, which may include some kind of planned respite
    • A crisis plan and contact information for after hours advice
    • Reassurance that they are doing a good job, and help with decision making if they are unable to continue their caregiving role.
  • Talk with the family about the implications of calling an ambulance, and consider strategies to avoid unwanted and inappropriate treatment, or transfer of a dying person to an emergency department.
    • A letter or an ambulance plan confirming the palliative goals of care should be provided
    • The ambulance plan may also be used to authorise treatment for a predictable crisis (eg, pain, bleeding, dyspnoea).
  • Consider alerting your palliative care service of the possible need for an inpatient palliative care bed as a back-up. If admission is needed, this may avoid the need to go through an emergency department. 


Caring for someone with cancer - Cancer Council booklet

Caring for Someone with Cancer (342kb pdf). 
A resource for patients

Ref: Cancer Council Australia. Caring for Someone with Cancer. Surrey Hills (NSW); Cancer Council Australia: 2020 Sep.


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Last updated 17 February 2020