About palliative care
Living with a terminal illness
How to care
Groups with specific needs
At the end
Bereavement, Grief and Loss
Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing problems associated with a life-threatening illness. It can be offered for years. It is far more than just the last few days of life. It applies to all conditions regardless of their nature, the age of the person affected and the stage of illness. It helps people to live life as fully and for as long as possible taking into consideration the physical, psychological and spiritual needs of the patient and their family.
To access these services ask your GP or specialist for a referral or visit pallcare.asn.au/palliative-care-services/
Acknowledgement: this message was brought to you by the Multicultural Communities Council of South Australia, Palliative Care SA, and CareSearch. For more information visit caresearch.com.au/partoflife
Life is unpredictable, so being prepared in advance can help you make important choices regarding the end of your life and ease the responsibility for your loved ones. Preparing an advance care directive helps to make your wishes and choices respected. This includes your spiritual needs and appointing someone you trust to take decisions for you if you are no longer able to do so. You do not need a lawyer or a doctor to fill in an advance care directive. Download the booklet or fill in an advance care directive online at advancecaredirectives.sa.gov.au and look for forms and guidelines. If you want a paper copy, you can also click on the link on this page to purchase advance care directive kit. Make sure that you discuss your wishes with the person that you want to speak on your behalf. Check that they are happy to do so.
Based on a person's individual needs the palliative care services offered may include pain and symptom management, equipment needed to aid care at home, assistance for families, financial support, cultural needs, emotional, social, and spiritual support, referrals to respite care services, grief and bereavement support. You can ask a GP, doctors, nurses, or a hospital liaison officer for a referral to palliative care and negotiate the services you need with the palliative care team. You and your family can also contact the palliative care services in your region that are listed on PCSA's website pallcare.asn.au/palliative-care-services/. You can also ask for an interpreter to help with your appointments.
Pain and symptom management is a major part of palliative care. Your doctor or nurse can talk to you about your medicines. It is okay to talk about the costs of medicines as well. You should also talk to them about any concerns or worries you have in providing medicines to the sick person. Practical tools such as a medications checklist can help you remember when and how to take your medicines. Remember to always check with your GP or palliative care team before beginning a new type of pain and symptom management treatment. You should also discuss any natural or traditional medicines the person may be taking. Community pharmacists are a useful resource and can help to manage and supply your medicines, telling you how to take the medicines safely and receiving the best benefit from them. Community nursing in your care team can work closely with your community pharmacist and together can teach you about administering medicines at home. Working closely with your doctor and the nurse will support you in providing medicines safely at home to keep the person comfortable at the end of life.
Holding courageous conversations with people about death can be tough. If that person has received a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness, it becomes even harder. As well as talking about the physical effects of the disease, people dealing with a life-threatening illness may want to talk about their values and important relationships. What matters most to you is a question that helps to get people talking about the most important things in their life and how they want to plan for their death. Having this conversation can be very important for all of you and all it takes is starting with a simple question.
The cost of palliative care depends upon many factors associated with the nature and location of services example at home, hospice, or hospital. The South Australian health system provides hospital and community support for public patients with a medicare card. Medicare will cover a GPS time, but you may need to pay a gap fee. For people with private health cover some hospice programs and community supports are available, but please check with your health provider and private insurance fund for eligibility. If you do not have a medicare card and your private Health cover is insufficient some public hospitals may have a repayment program and/or a hardship assistance program.
If you are eligible for a home care package you can have palliative care services at the same time, but please check the coverage of each service to avoid additional costs. Your carer may be eligible to apply for carer payments, carer allowance, or respite. You may need to pay extra costs to hire specialised equipment for use at home.
Home funerals are also a significant cost and costs can vary significantly. You may choose to plan ahead and join a prepaid plan or take out insurance. For a good summary of costs type in 'palliative care costs Australia' in your search engine. This will take you to the federal government information.
Last updated 02 August 2021