Providing Palliative Care in Australia

Over 130,000 people die each year in Australia. Many of these deaths will be expected as a result of serious illness, advancing chronic disease or old age.

Palliative care is a form of healthcare provided to people who have a progressing illness that will lead to death. It is active and supportive care that seeks to maximize quality of life and comfort. Palliative Care can be provided in private or public hospitals, hospices, residential aged care facilities as well as in a person’s home.

Many different health professionals can provide palliative care. Specialist palliative care teams provide direct care for those with complex care needs. This could be in a hospice or palliative care ward. Specialist teams also support other health professionals working in the community or in hospitals to care for their patients as they approach the end of their lives.

Not all people with a life limiting illness need specialist palliative care. Many people will see specialist palliative care staff only every now and again when there is a particular need. A smaller group of patients and carers may have symptoms that need careful management. In this case there may be the continuing involvement of a specialist team.

This approach to palliative care service provision is outlined in a Palliative Care Australia document Palliative Care Service Development Guidelines (340kb pdf).

The companion National Palliative Care Standards (371kb pdf) document supports service implementation and reporting by providing clearly stated standards for providing quality palliative care, services can be assessed against these standards.

The National Palliative Care Strategy guides palliative care initiatives and services in Australia.