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Palliative care

Palliative care is healthcare that focuses on improving the quality of life and quality of care for people with a life-limiting illness, as well as families.

It includes:

  • the prevention and relief of suffering
  • communication about goals of care
  • the early identification, assessment and treatment of physical, psychological, emotional, social and spiritual symptoms.

Palliative care does not aim to slow down or speed up the dying process. Rather, it helps people live as actively as possible until death by enhancing their quality of life.

You do not need to stop other treatment while receiving palliative care, but you can choose to if you wish.

Specialist palliative care

Some people with a life-limiting illness require specialist palliative care provided by health professionals with expertise in symptom control, psychological, social, spiritual and cultural care.

Specialist palliative care supports people at any age who are experiencing severe or complex symptoms due to a life-limiting illness. A referral is required to access specialist palliative care services.

Not everyone who dies will access specialist palliative care. People who pass away quickly due to serious injury or illness may not require or be able to access palliative care. Some people may not choose to access palliative care, or it may not be appropriate for them.

Specialist palliative care staff are trained with specific skills and knowledge to help you, your family and carers. They have expertise in symptom management, emotional, spiritual, practical and cultural care.

There is a range of specialist palliative care services available within Queensland offering advice, information, referral and support for a person with a life-threatening illness, their family, friends, carers and health professionals.

A referral is required to access specialist palliative care services. To request a referral or learn more about palliative care services available in your local area, speak to your healthcare providers.

Where palliative care is delivered

Palliative care may be provided in your home, hospital, palliative care unit, a residential aged care facility or hospice.

Find more information about care at the end of life:

Cost of palliative care

If you have a Medicare card, palliative care delivered by Queensland Health is generally free. You may have to pay for the hire of some specialist equipment, medications, dressings, services and treatments. Speak with your palliative care team or GP for more information about these costs.

If you choose to receive extra services beyond what Queensland Health provides, you may incur costs.

There will be extra fees if you access palliative care in a private hospital, but Medicare and private health insurance rebates may apply. Always check with your private insurance company and care providers to find out more about your options and the potential fees.

Locating palliative care services

The National Palliative Care Service Directory provides information about specialist medical, nursing or allied health palliative care service providers, organisations and community support agencies.