End-of-life care

End-of-life care includes physical, psychosocial, social, cultural and spiritual assessment, care and treatment. This care is provided by a range of healthcare workers and includes support for families and carers.

People are ‘approaching the end of life’ when they are likely to die within the next 12 months. Voluntary assisted dying is one of several choices that may be available to someone at the end of their life.

Advance care planning

Advance care planning provides an opportunity for people to think, discuss and plan for the care and treatment they would prefer in the future. It is an ongoing process that requires:

  • introducing choices to people about future care
  • thinking about values, priorities, and preferences for care
  • identifying a substitute decision maker
  • clearly documenting decisions so they are easily accessible.

Conversations about voluntary assisted dying may come up in the context of broader discussions about advanced care planning and end-of-life. However, voluntary assisted dying cannot be accessed through and advance health directive or statement of choices.

To access voluntary assisted dying, a person must have decision-making capacity throughout the entire process. An advance health directive, statement of choices or substitute decision-maker may be used in situations where the person no longer has decision-making capacity. This means that the request will not be valid if:

  • a person requests voluntary assisted dying in an advance health directive
  • a substitute decision-maker requests voluntary assisted dying on behalf of another person.

Although a person cannot validly request voluntary assisted dying in an advance health directive or via a substitute decision-maker, conversations about advance care planning can present an opportunity to discuss the person’s concerns and wishes for their care at the end-of-life.

Find more information at the My Care, My Choices website.

Palliative care and end-of-life care

Compassionate palliative care and end-of-life care is respectful of a person’s cultural, spiritual, and physical needs and preferences. This care may be required at any age and is appropriate for anyone living with a life-limiting illness, including cancer, other chronic conditions, dementia, and non-malignant degenerative diseases.

People with a life-limiting illness should be at the heart of their care, surrounded by their family, carers, community and supported by services, which may include one or more of a range of formal and informal supports. This includes supporting relationships between individuals, family, kin, and community while providing care, and recognising the importance of connection to land, culture, spirituality and ancestry, and how these affect an individual.

For First Nations peoples, the time before and after death, which may be referred to as Sad News and/or Sorry Business, are subject to customary practices and beliefs, which should be respected and accommodated during the provision of palliative and end-of-life care. Access resources for care at the end-of-life.

Palliative care

Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of people and their families who are living with a life-limiting illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and correct assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, whether physical, psychosocial, or spiritual.

Access to high-quality palliative care is a right that all Queenslanders should expect. Healthcare workers and services across Queensland provide high-quality, holistic, and compassionate palliative care that many people seeking access to voluntary assisted dying will already receive.

Learn more about palliative care.

End-of-life care

End-of-life care includes physical, spiritual, and psychosocial assessment, care and treatment delivered by health professionals and ancillary staff. It also includes support of families and carers, and care of the patient’s body after their death.

People are ‘approaching the end of life’ when they are likely to die within the next 12 months. This includes people whose death is imminent (expected within a few hours or days) and those with:

  • advanced, progressive, incurable conditions
  • general frailty and co-existing conditions that mean that they are expected to die within 12 months
  • existing conditions, if they are at risk of dying from a sudden acute crisis in their condition
  • life-threatening acute conditions caused by sudden catastrophic events.

Learn more about end-of-life care at home and care in hospital or residential aged care facilities.