27 May National Palliative Care Week 2022
The theme for this year’s National Palliative Care Week (NPCW) is “It’s your right” seeking to raise awareness about the right of all Australians to access high-quality palliative care when and where they need it.
One of the great myths about palliative care is that it is only a synonym for end-of-life care. It is so much more than that. Anyone with a life-limiting illness has the right to live as well as possible, for as long as possible. Palliative care is not about dying, it’s about living.
During NPCW we hope to spark important conversations in the community about the benefits of quality palliative care and celebrate the amazing dedication of all those working and volunteering in palliative care across Australia.
What is palliative care?
Palliative care helps people (from babies to older adults) live their life as well as possible for as long as possible, when living with a life-limiting or terminal illness, like cancer, motor neurone disease and dementia. It is person and family-centred care that considers the individual’s physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs, as well as the needs of their loved ones and carers.
It does not mean the end of all treatment. It means making choices about which treatments are important, and which are not.
Palliative care is different for everyone, depending on what they need. It may include:
- treatment to relieve pain and other symptoms;
- aids to help someone at home;
- help with washing, dressing, and eating;
- links and referrals to services such as home help, financial support and respite care;
- cultural support;
- emotional, social, and spiritual support;
- counselling and grief support;
- practical and emotional support for families and carers.
Most people are cared for by their own doctor in partnership with other health professionals and specialist palliative care services, in close cooperation from family and friends.
What is the difference between palliative care and end-of-life care?
End-of-life care is care given during the last few weeks of life. Palliative care can be helpful at any stage of an illness. Some people receive palliative care for years.
Accepting palliative care does not mean you are giving up hope. Many people receive palliative care at the same time as active treatment. However, people with life-limiting illnesses may find that they gradually change their focus to concentrating on the things that are most important to them, such as feeling comfortable and having meaningful relationships.
Who is palliative care suitable for?
Palliative care can be offered to people of any age, including children. It can help anyone who has a serious illness that cannot be cured.
Where can I find palliative care?
People can receive palliative care in almost all places where health care is provided, such as hospitals and general practices, as well as in specialist centres such as hospices, and in their own homes.
Your doctor, community health centre, or local health department can provide information on palliative care and other relevant care services.
What are my palliative care choices?
It is important to understand what palliative care can offer and the range of services available. This will allow you to make better decisions about what kind of care is suitable, where to have it, and when to make a change.
Even if you are undergoing active treatment, you can still benefit from palliative care. It is a good idea to discuss the options with your doctor. If you have advanced disease, it is important to discuss your prognosis, wishes, values and end of life planning with your doctor.
When someone is nearing the end of their life and comes to a hospital department such as emergency or intensive care, it is important for them and their family to have a clear plan of the goals of care, as well as their wishes around medical treatment, so this can be discussed with the doctors.
Where can I find more information?
Useful information and resources for patients and carers can be found by visiting palliativecare.org.au. You can also contact the Timboon Clinic on 5558 6088 to make an appointment with one of our GPs or contact 5558 6000 to get more information about your palliative care options at Timboon and District Healthcare Service.