Palliative care provides high quality health care to people living with sickness who are not going to get better. It helps to give you the best possible quality of life by managing pain and symptoms.
Palliative care can be provided at home, in an aged care facility, in a hospice or in the hospital. A general practitioner or doctor working with an Aboriginal community-controlled health service can assist in access to palliative care.
Palliative care can be provided by different health professionals and often includes a whole team of people who share the journey with the patient. It can include nurses, doctors, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and health services, medical specialists, palliative care services and home carers. They will make sure that no-one travels this journey alone.
People often have to go away for treatment when they are sick. Staying away from home and country is sometimes necessary, but not if the person is very ill and is expected to be finishing up soon. Patients and families don’t always know that they can come home at the end.
If you got real crook, and you couldn’t speak for yourself, would your family, doctor and Aboriginal Health Worker know what your wishes are about your healthcare? Letting everyone know what you want is the best way to influence the way you are cared for in times of illness. Planning ahead is important.
Dying to Talk have created an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Discussion Starter designed to help people work out what's right for them in terms of what they would want to happen if they were very sick and not able to talk for themselves. The discussion starter helps you to prepare for having this talk with your family. You can learn more about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Discussion Starter and download the resource from the Palliative Care Australia website.
An Advance Care Plan is a way that you can share your wishes and take control of your health journey.
At first it was hard, I didn’t understand what the surgeon was talking about in his language. I learned and began to ask questions. I would write them down and ask what he meant. I would read them out and he would tell me, in laymen’s terms he said, what is happening and will happen in the future.
A patient’s story.
Source: Kelly J, Dwyer J, Mackean T, Willis E, O’Donnell K, Battersby M, et al. Managing Two Worlds Together: Study 3 - The Experiences of Patients and Their Carers (902kb pdf). Melbourne: The Lowitja Institute; 2011. Page 24.
The [Aboriginal health service GP] is really mindful of our needs. She is really busy and everything, but she makes time to talk about things and follow through. She explains things really well. With the medication she tells me why, what it does, not just taking it and not knowing. If you get the right help, you can get through… What we need is friendly people, with friendly processes.
Source: Kelly J, Dwyer J, Mackean T, Willis E, O’Donnell K, Battersby M, et al. Managing Two Worlds Together: Study 3 - The Experiences of Patients and Their Carers (902kb pdf). Melbourne: The Lowitja Institute; 2011. Page 11.
To find out more about advance care plans you can look at these resources:
Having a Will is another way of making sure your choices are known, so that your family doesn’t have to play a guessing game and you can cut out the chances of family fights. Information about Wills can be found at:
Making some plans for a funeral will also help when the time comes, so that big decisions don't need to be made when the family is distressed.
Last updated 25 September 2023