Palliative care

Receiving a recommendation from a medical doctor to seek palliative care in the final stages of an illness can cause a great deal of stress and uncertainty for everyone involved. If you or your loved one would prefer to spend your remaining days at home surrounded by the people and memories you hold dear, this wish can be fulfilled and made a little easier by engaging our palliative care services.

We understand your need to have more control over the circumstances and nature of treatment – including the right to choose where that treatment takes place and who assists you to remain comfortable and supported. We work with you and your loved one to provide palliative care that suits your needs in a sensitive, respectful and unobtrusive manner.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is specialised medical treatment for people with serious illnesses. Most often the person receiving palliative care will have an advanced illness with little or no prospect of cure. The aim of palliative care is to achieve the best possible quality of life for the person, while also providing symptom relief as well as emotional support for the family and carers.

Palliative care can be provided in-home for you or your loved one by our team of nurses and personal care specialists, who work together (with direction from) your medical doctor. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and in some situations can be provided along with curative treatment.

Palliative care does not aim to cure a health problem, rather the goal is to reduce the severity of symptoms or slow the progress of the disease.

Palliative care:

  • affirms life and treats dying as a normal process
  • neither hastens or delays death
  • provides relief from pain and symptoms
  • balances all aspects of care (physical, emotional, social and spiritual) with each patient’s individual needs and wishes
  • offers support to help people live as actively and independently as possible
  • offers support to help the patient and family during the illness and later in bereavement

How can palliative care help you or your loved one?

Sequel can assist your loved one’s palliative care needs by performing duties that include:

  • Personal care assistance to maintain hygiene, grooming, nutrition etc.
  • Medication, pain and wound management
  • Optimizing you or your loved one’s comfort
  • Emotional support
  • Being responsive to changing needs
  • Respite care (if needed) for primary carer

We understand that physical, mental, social and emotional dynamics take place during this challenging time of transition for both you and your loved ones. Having lived a life of purpose, a palliative care diagnosis means precious time should be celebrated and spent surrounded with friends and family. Our approach is simple: do everything possible to enable quality time among immediate family and friends.

Palliative care improves quality of life

Palliative care treats people suffering from serious and chronic illnesses such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, motor neurone disease, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, end-stage dementia, congestive heart failure, kidney failure, and Parkinson’s.

Palliative care focuses on symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping and depression. It also helps you or your loved one to:

  • gain the strength needed to carry on with daily life
  • Improves ability to cope with and tolerate medical treatments, and
  • Achieve more control over treatment and final options.

A partnership between patient, specialists, support network and family

Palliative care is a team approach to care for patients suffering from chronic illness. The core team often includes a doctor, nurse, palliative care specialists, massage therapists, chemist, nutritionists, chaplains and family members. The team partners with, supports and helps you to understand all of your treatment options and select the care (and venue) that is best for you.

Where are palliative care services provided?

Palliative care services can be provided in a range of settings including the home, hospices, aged care homes, hospitals and palliative care units. In hospice, the patient is expected to have a life-span of six months or less, and is receiving end of life care.

However, many palliative patients may have many years of life ahead and are not necessarily nearing the end of their life. Most palliative patients can opt to and continue to receive high quality and effective in-home care, while being surrounded by their favourite surroundings, memories and familiar faces.

Support for carers

Caring for someone approaching the end of their life can be scary and emotionally draining. If you’re the primary caregiver to someone right now, it’s easy to forget to look after yourself and your own needs. In order to continue to provide the best care possible for your loved one, it’s crucial to look after yourself, stay fit, be healthy and feel relaxed. There are a number of people who may be able to support both you and your loved one during this difficult and uncertain time:

  • general practitioners, palliative care specialists and other physicians
  • nurses, allied health professionals, social workers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, massage therapists, chemists, dieticians and speech pathologists
  • support workers – nursing assistants, personal care attendants and diversional therapists
  • therapists skilled in music, meditation, hypnosis, aromatherapy or colour
  • bereavement counsellors
  • spiritual advisers
  • workers who have language skills and knowledge of various cultures
  • administrators or business managers, experts in financial planning and estate lawyers

Who else may be able to assist you?

  • Respecting Patient Choices– more information on advance care directives
  • Palliative Care Australia– the peak national body for palliative care (includes online resources about end-of-life care in 21 languages)
  • CareSearch – A one-stop online resource for palliative care information
  • National Palliative Care Service Directory– online directory of organisations that provide palliative care services and support.

Next steps to receive help with palliative care

When you feel it is time to discuss your palliative care needs and are looking to find the perfect palliative care provider that can respond quickly with a personal care worker, often within 24 hours of your first contact with us, call us on 9499 1200 or submit a written request by following the link to our contact us webpage or download a free guide – The best questions you can ask when seeking palliative care.

Debra's story

Janice had been caring for her mother Debra for seven years, after a stroke left her unable to work or move independently.  Janice assisted her mother with all aspects of her daily living needs including showering, dressing, eating and toileting.  For a number of years Debra was able to stay on her own for a few hours each day, which gave Janice time to do the shopping and meet with friends.  But when Janice first came to us for assistance, her mother’s condition had deteriorated quickly in a short period of time and Janice was unable to leave her alone even for a few minutes.

Janice, like most people caring for a loved one who is not likely to make a full recovery from an illness or accident, did not recognize the pressure building until she was completely overwhelmed.  While Janice’s dedication and commitment to caring for her mother is unwavering, she didn’t envisage having to give up her family, friends, job, interests and free time for such a long period of time.  What started out as just a few hours each day, slowly became a 24/7 comittment without relief and Janice slowly began to resent her mother and their relationship.

With a qualified nurse and two support workers, Sequel was able to support Janice for a few hours each day and significantly enhance Debra’s quality of life.  Our team assisted Debra with all aspects of personal care, continence management, monitoring her skin integrity and pressure areas, medication and pain management, and addressing new symptoms as they arose. We were able to do this independently so that Janice was freed up to run errands, attend to her family, meet up with friends and have some time off to rejuvenate.  The break and support gave Janice an opportunity to do things she had been unable to do for years as well as reflect on her role as a carer for her mother.

Toward the end of Debra’s life, Janice began to rely on us for overnight support as well, which enabled her to rest in preparation for the following day. When the time came for Janice to make the decision about whether her mother would die at home or be transferred into a palliative care facility, she was able to confidently choose in-home care. She knew that she could rely on our support team to help her with the physical, mental, social and emotional aspects of making her mother’s final months as comfortable as possible.

Having professional support at home assisted both Debra and Janice to achieve closure and a peaceful, dignified death.  It also gave Janice the opportunity to talk through all the issues involved, work through her grief, and spend some quality time with her mother.