Healthy living

Palliative care

Palliative care aims to improves the quality of life of anyone with a life-limiting condition, their family and carers.

Palliative care sees death and dying as a normal part of life. It does not try to shorten life and it does not try to make life longer – instead it helps you live as well as possible. It can support you as well as your carers, friends and family and the earlier it is accessed the better..

Palliative care focuses on quality of life

Palliative care aims to give you the best possible quality of life rather than finding a cure for your illness. It does not mean the end of treatment – it means making choices about which treatments are important to you and which are not.

Palliative care is based on your needs, so support and services vary from person to person. Palliative care can include:

  • relief of pain and other symptoms (e.g. nausea, shortness of breath)
  • support to live as actively as possible until death
  • equipment to help you live at home, such as wheelchairs or special beds
  • support for you to meet your cultural obligations
  • counselling and grief support for you, your family and loved ones
  • support for your emotional, social and spiritual concerns
  • access to support services (e.g. respite care, home help, financial support).

Knowing what support is available and how to access it can help you to live as well as you can. Palliative care can help you find peace and meaning when you face an incurable illness.

Who can access palliative care?

Palliative care is for anyone diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, it includes:

  • any age
  • any diagnosis
  • access at any stage from diagnosis throughout the illness
  • access alongside curative treatments(e.g. chemotherapy, dialysis).

Early referral can improve your quality of life. It also provides support and advice for family and carers.

Where is palliative care available?

You can receive palliative care in almost all health care settings, including:

  • your own home
  • a hospital
  • specialist centres such as hospices
  • residential aged or disability care facilities.

You should talk to your loved ones and health care team about where you would like your care to be provided, and they will try to achieve this when possible.

Palliative Care WA (external site) provides a directory of service providers which you can search by your location or the service you need.

The Department of Health website (external site) provides resources are available for health care professionals to help them decide when a referral to specialist palliative care is appropriate, and what service might best meet your needs.

Who will be involved in your care?

Depending on your needs, your health care team can include:

  • doctors
  • nurses
  • social workers
  • psychologists
  • physiotherapists
  • pharmacists
  • occupational therapists
  • speech pathologists
  • dietitians.

If you have complex needs specialist palliative care services may be involved.

Where to find more information

Last reviewed: 31-03-2020

WA Cancer and Palliative Care Network

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional advice. Information about a service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace professional advice. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified professional for answers to their questions.

Palliative Care WA helpline: 1800 573 299. White text on purple background. with two women talking on a bench in bottom right corner