How to provide care for someone with palliative care needs

Many people including your health professional team can help you to care for someone with a life limiting illness at home. Knowing what you can do and how to do this safely is important.

When caring for someone at home you will need to provide physical support to help the person with daily activities. As the illness progresses you will need to give more support. This may include personal hygiene and mobility. The person may not be able to get out of bed. It is important to know how to provide help without hurting yourself. Having reliable advice and guidance to help you in this role is important. There are resources on this page to help.

Physical needs

People with a life-limiting illness will have good and bad days. For many people being as independent and in control as they can be is important. They will have days where they need more help than on others. Some of the physical challenges you face may include:

  • how to help them into and out of a car
  • how to use a commode
  • how to use a shower stool
  • mouth care
  • how to give medications including injections
  • how to prevent bed sores.

You will also need to manage symptoms such as nausea, constipation, anxiety, breathlessness and fatigue. Palliative Care South East has a Carer's booklet with practical information and tips on what you can do to help. Sometimes the food and drink you offer can help to manage symptoms. Other times it might be helping the person into a more comfortable position.

Nutritional needs

You might want to know what foods to prepare. As a person's illness progresses their ability to swallow may change. Food they once enjoyed may not taste the same to them. They may lose interest in food. It can help to know what to expect so that you have time to prepare for these changes.

If you are unsure of something, ask your health care team. They are there to help with advice and equipment.

Last updated 02 August 2021