Palliative care helps improve the quality of life for someone living with a life limiting illness.
Illness may limit what a patient can do, but there are many ways we can help.
Victoria offers a range of services, from inpatient to homeland community-based care.
"Australia has one of the best developed and advanced palliative care services in the world for community hospital and inpatient palliative care services. But increasingly people are focusing on management of illness as it progresses, chronic disease, non-malignant disease, diseases that need supporting, not only in the hospital sector, but also in the community sector."
"You couldn't wish for better services from anywhere, and the doctors and the nurses at the hospital have been exceptional."
"Services such as Eastern Palliative Care focus on people staying at home as long as possible. It's our job to provide comprehensive suite of palliative care services to people that have specialist palliative care needs."
Palliative care services include at home care, specialist inpatient palliative care, counselling, equipment and aids, volunteer support and hospital care.
"The fact is that people who have their symptoms well managed by a specialist palliative care team in the community do live longer than those who don't have that same kind of care and that’s been proven in research."
As well as support from health professionals, for many, the primary carer is a family member.
"And when Dad got sick I’d noticed quite a while beforehand that his health was not quite right. And that's how I've sort of became Dad's carer."
A range of aids is available to help with moving around and other activities of daily living.
"He's got mobility aids to help him and before I just tried to help him the best I can. And now he's got his new scooter, that’s made things a lot easier for him and me, I suppose."
"If you're going up a hill it’s got a little button on it to give you a bit more power into the back end of the motor, so that's been very good."
"For carers, I think at some point, as a carer you do need some sort of respite for people you're helping out."
Talk with your palliative care service about support and respite care options.
Palliative care can be involved early in the illness, and at the same time as treatment, such as chemotherapy.
Increasingly, advance care plans are used, where the patient makes it clear in writing the way they want to be treated.
"I think it's really important that families talk to each other about what their wishes are at the end of life, so if we don't know where someone wants to die or where they want their care to be delivered or who they want involved, there’s a lot of guessing that goes on for families and that adds to the stress.
So having those open discussions which can often lead to the development of an advance care plan for people, are really useful discussions to have."
Palliative care services are free or subsidised through Medicare.
However, there may be costs involved for some specialist equipment, medications, and treatments.
If you do choose private palliative care services, you will need to pay.
It's best to ask about costs before you make a decision.
Victoria offers home-based and specialist inpatient care where clients receive medical, nursing, social, and emotional support.
"My best advice is to engage early, advocate, push to your healthcare professionals to engage palliative care. We need to be part of the team early rather than late."
To find out more, make sure you log on to betterhealth.vic.gov.au/palliative.