Please click on the questions below to jump to answers further down the page. The information on this page is a guide only and does not take the place of information provided to you by a health professional and tailored to your situation.

 

How can palliative care help you?

  • If you, or someone you know, has been diagnosed with a life limiting or terminal illness like cancer or organ failure, palliative care (sometimes known as ‘hospice care’) can help prevent and relieve suffering by treating pain and other problems, physical, emotional, social and spiritual.
  • Palliative care service providers can also assist if you are the carer or family member of a person with a life limiting or terminal illness, helping organise income support, bereavement support, equipment etc, depending on what’s needed.
  • The overall aim is to help you achieve your individual goals in life and in care.
  • You can learn more about palliative and end of life care on our website here.

Do you want to learn more about palliative care and what it means for your care, or the care of someone close to you?

  • As a first step, it is often helpful to talk to your usual doctor or care team about palliative care.
  • Palliative Care WA Inc can also provide general information about palliative care and available services – call the office during business hours on 1300 551 704.
  • Learn more about palliative care definitions.

Do you need to develop and communicate your plans for the future, or discuss your health situation?

  • Clear communications are vital if you have been diagnosed with a life limiting or terminal illness.
  • Concealing information, whether you are the sick person or a family member of the sick person, can cause problems.
  • Talking about your problems or concerns with your family, friends or health care team can lead to good solutions and can help you feel better.
  • Give yourself and those close to you time and space to discuss difficult issues without interruptions.
  • If you need a guide to talking with your doctor about your situation, Palliative Care Australia publishes Asking Questions Can Help, available here – http://palliativecare.org.au/Portals/46/20676%20PCA-Asking%20Questions%5B3%5D.pdf
  • If your family member, friend or work colleague has been diagnosed with a life limiting or terminal illness, Palliative Care Australia publishesWhat Can I Say, What Can I Do? available here –http://www.palliativecare.org.au/portals/46/resources/WhatCanI.pdf

Is palliative care only for people who are just about to die?

  • Palliative care is not only for people who are just about to die.
  • Many people benefit from early input from a palliative care team, often while curative therapy continues, in order to access additional resources and expertise, help with care planning and meeting particular needs of a person or their family.
  • In most cases the palliative care team will work closely with a person’s existing doctors and care team throughout the person’s journey.
  • The palliative care team may only have intermittent or minimal contact with the person, depending on their needs.

Do you need a palliative or hospice care service provider?

  • The level and complexity of your problems, your strengths and limitations, and those of your carers, family and friends, will determine the sort of care and support offered by service providers.
  • Only some people need to access services from a palliative care or hospice service.
  • As a first step, it is often helpful to talk to your usual doctor or care team about palliative care.
  • Most palliative care or hospice services need a referral from your doctor.

Do you want to find out more about palliative care services in Perth?

  • Services are generally provided free of charge through the public health system – there are private options available.
  • The WA Department of Health has a guide to specialist palliative care services in Western Australia – Guide to specialist palliative care services in WA
  • Silver Chain Hospice Care Service (08 9242 0242 or http://silverchain.org.au/wa/) provides palliative care services in the community.  You will need a referral from your doctor.
  • Inpatient palliative care beds are located in different places around the city for those who need them.  Talk with your usual doctor (or community palliative care team) about how to access services.
  • Some major hospitals in the Perth region have palliative care teams on site – ask your usual care team about which hospitals offer palliative care services or see the Guide to specialist palliative care services in WA .
  • The Independent Living Centre of WA can help you source equipment:  http://www.ilc.com.au/ or 1300 885 886.

Do you want to find out more about palliative care services in country Western Australia?

  • Services are generally provided free of charge through the public health system – there are private options available in some locations.
  • The WA Department of Health has a guide to specialist palliative care services in Western Australia – Guide to specialist palliative care services in WA
  • Each of the regional health services in rural Western Australia provides palliative care services – contact details for your local office are shown on the WA Department of Health’s website at Rural Palliative Care Services, or visit Palliative Care Australia’s National Palliative Care Service Directory: Directory of Services
  • Silver Chain (1300 650 803 or http://silverchain.org.au/wa/) provides palliative care services in the community in some country locations.
  • The Independent Living Centre of WA can help you source equipment:  http://www.ilc.com.au/ or 1300 885 886.

Do you want more information about your palliative care medications?

  • As a first step, it is often helpful to talk to your usual doctor or care team about palliative care medications.
  • The Australian Government has listed many medicines commonly used in palliative care on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule – this means that the drugs are available to you at reduced prices.
  • If you are having difficulty paying for your medications, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about ways of saving money on your medicines.
  • Morphine is a safe and effective pain medication for many people – Palliative Care Australia publishes a brief brochure about the use of morphine and other medications in palliative care which is available at www.palliativecare.org.au.
  • Make sure you discuss any complementary or alternative therapies with your doctor before you start them.

Do you need support as a carer for someone with a life limiting illness?

  • Palliative care service providers can help organise support if you are the carer of someone with a life limiting or terminal illness.
  • Additional support for carers is available from Carers WA www.carerswa.asn.au, or call 1300 227 337.
  • If you need respite services:  Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres: 1800 052 222 during business hours or, for emergency respite support outside standard business hours, call 1800 059 059.
  • You may be eligible for an Australian Government benefit if you are a carer – contact the Department of Human Services on 13 2717 or visit www.humanservices.gov.au for more information.
  • Palliative Care WA Inc publishes a free booklet, Palliative Caring at Home: Western Australian edition, which contains practical advice and information for carers. Click here to download your copy (July 2012, 76 pages 2Mb) or call or fax our office on 1300 551 704 or Contact Us to request a free copy.

Do you know someone with a life limiting illness and you don’t know what to do or what to say?

  • Palliative Care Australia publishes ‘What can I say, what can I do?’, available from www.palliativecare.org.au
  • The Living Caring Working website at www.livingcaringworking.com is an Australian resource which includes lots of practical information for work colleagues and employers about supporting people in the workplace who have a life limiting or terminal illness, or who are caring for someone who is seriously ill.

Is someone close to you dying or have they recently died?

  • Everybody experiences the loss of someone close to them differently – there is no right or wrong way to respond.
  • You may have new or unpredictable feelings including sadness, anger, anxiety, relief or guilt – these are normal and will probably subside over time.
  • You may feel disinclined to see friends or family or go to work, life may seem disorganised, it might be difficult to eat or sleep or concentrate, you might have worrying dreams – these are normal responses and will probably subside over time.
  • It can be helpful to spend time with trusted friends or advisers to express in some way what you are experiencing.
  • More practical information and advice is available at the www.grieflink.asn.au website.
  • Grief, loss and bereavement counselling is provided by Carers WA for all carers of someone who is dying or has died.  You can request face to face, email or Skype counselling or call the Carers Counselling Line. You don’t have to be the primary carer and no one is refused face to face counselling if unable to pay the small fee.  See Counselling at the Carers WA website for more information.
  • The Annual Commemoration Service is held every October for everyone who has experienced the loss of someone close to them in the past year or so.  This secular ceremony supports people coping with loss, grief and bereavement and is offered by Palliative Care WA to the entire Western Australian community.  See Annual Commemoration Service in the Events menu of this website for more information.

Do you need to write a will?

  • A will outlines what should happen to your personal property after you die.
  • If your affairs are simple, you can use a will kit from a newsagent.
  • In most cases it is wise to consult a trusted adviser – a lawyer or accountant – about your will.
  • You should not use a will to record your wishes for care or treatment while you are still alive.
  • A will may include a ‘digital register,’ which contains the locations and passwords of online accounts holding digital media and files.  See www.digitalheritage.net.au for more information about digital registers.

Do you need to organise a funeral?

  • Planning your funeral in advance, and letting the people around you know about it, can prevent confusion or conflict after your death, and ensures your personal wishes met.
  • Check the Yellow Pages under ‘Funeral Directors’ or visit the Australian Funeral Directors Association website, www.afda.org.au to ‘Find a Funeral Director’ by postcode, and contact someone in your area for a confidential discussion.

Do you need help managing your finances and legal affairs?

  • If you are unable to manage your own finances and legal affairs, you may need to complete an Enduring Power of Attorney to nominate a trusted person who can do this on your behalf.
  • There is more information available on the website of the WA Office of the Public Advocate:  www.publicadvocate.wa.gov.au

Do you want more general information about palliative care, or to access detailed information resources about palliative care?