Understanding end of life care

What is end of life care?

End of life care aims to help provide those diagnosed with a life threatening or non-curable illness with comfort and assistance in managing symptoms and improve the quality of their life, as it is coming to an end.

This includes help with mental health, practical help and tasks of daily living in order to improve your quality of life and relieve some stress from your family, friends and carers and is generally engaged when a person is perceived to have 12 months or less of life left.

Who is end of life care for?

Some chronic life limiting illnesses where palliative care will at some point be offered are (but not limited to):

  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer’s and dementia
  • Motor neurone disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Heart and lung diseases
  • Stroke or neurological conditions

Palliative care services can also provide assistance for carers or family members who may be providing care in various forms for a loved one.

When should end of life care be considered

Care should be considered when a person is thought to have 12 months of life or less, left to help you maintain your quality of life for as long as possible during their final months.

Delivery of care

A range of providers delivers this care, such as:

  • Aged care facilities
  • GP clinics
  • Government agencies
  • Religious service providers
  • Disability services

As the condition progresses those delivering your palliative care may change to suit your needs and this care can be delivered in a variety of settings, including the persons own home.

Cost of palliative care

End of life care is generally government and Medicare subsidised, but some costs may be incurred for medications, treatments and specialised equipment.

If you are considering palliative care for your loved one, talk to their health care provider to discuss options available. Although this will always be a difficult and emotional conversation, by planning you can improve your loved ones quality of life during their final months which in turn means you can make the most of the quality of time you have left with them.


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