23 May 2018
National Palliative Care Week 2018 – By Interchange Australia Consultants, Anne-Marie Kennedy and Julie Doran
National Palliative Care Week is an annual awareness week organised by Palliative Care Australia (PCA).
The theme for this year’s National Palliative Care Week is ‘What matters most?’ and it will be held 20-26 May 2018.
National Palliative Care Week is a national week supported by the Department of Health to raise awareness and understanding about palliative care in the Australian community.
The theme addresses the need for Australians to plan ahead for their end-of-life care and discuss it with their loved ones and health professionals.
PCA will highlight how palliative care can help people with a life-limiting illness to have a high quality of life, right to the end of life.
What is palliative care?
Palliative care is care that helps people live their life as fully and as comfortably as possible when living with a life-limiting or terminal illness.
Palliative care identifies and treats symptoms which may be physical, emotional, spiritual or social. Because palliative care is based on individual needs, the services offered will differ but may include:
• Relief of pain and other symptoms e.g. vomiting, shortness of breath;
• Resources such as equipment needed to aid care at home;
• Assistance for families to come together to talk about sensitive issues;
• Links to other services such as home help and financial support;
• Support for people to meet cultural obligations;
• Support for emotional, social and spiritual concerns;
• Counselling and grief support; and
• Referrals to respite care services
Palliative care is a family-centred model of care, meaning that family and carers can receive practical and emotional support. Individuals who are entering the palliative care stage are encouraged to have a conversation about their end of life wishes. As hard as it may be at the time, your family, friends or carers will have peace of mind knowing they have provided you with the care you wished to have.
Who is palliative care for?
Palliative care is for people of any age who have been told that they have a serious illness that cannot be cured. Palliative care assists people with illnesses such as cancer, motor neurone disease and end-stage kidney or lung disease to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. For some people, palliative care may be beneficial from the time of diagnosis with a serious life-limiting illness. Palliative care can be given alongside treatments given by other doctors.
Who is in the palliative care team?
Your GP, aged care worker and any other health care provider plays an important role in providing palliative care, as do family carers. They are supported by specialist palliative care services if symptoms become difficult to manage.
Where is palliative care provided?
Palliative care is provided where the person and their family wants, where possible, including at home, in hospital, in a hospice and in a residential aged care facility.
Many people indicate a preference to die at home and making this possible often depends on several factors, including:
• the nature of the illness and amount of care the person needs;
• how much support is available from the person’s family and community; and
• whether the person has someone at home who can provide physical care and support for them.
So what matters most to you?
For some people in palliative care, it may be to have their pain and symptoms managed and to receive all possible treatment. Other people may choose to have no treatment. Some people may want to be surrounded by loved ones and pets, while other may choose to have their final moments alone. Everyone’s answer will be different, and there is no right or wrong answer.
Interchange Australia can provide a range of services to support people with life-limiting or terminal illnesses and their carers either through government subsidised programs or through private care. Services can include but are not limited to assistance with personal hygiene, cleaning, social support, respite, medication monitoring, meal preparation, transport and sleepovers. We have a large team of skilled, caring female and male support workers able to provide service at any time of the day in locations across southern NSW, Southern Highlands and South Western Sydney. If you would like to explore services for yourself or for a loved one, please call us on 1300 112 334 and ask to speak with one of our friendly consultants.