Palliative Care Nurses

Palliative Care Nurses

Specialist palliative care services have evolved from the hospice movement and the work of Dame Cicely Saunders. Palliative care services were originally designed for people with cancer. It is now recognised that people living with other life-limiting diseases can benefit from palliative care. Palliative care is appropriate for many people living in residential aged care (RAC) and for some older people living at home.

Palliative care nurses have developed special skills in caring for people with life-limiting illnesses and their families through experience and training. Specialist palliative care nurses have high level skills, postgraduate level education and several years experience in palliative care.

‘Link nurses’ have been used to introduce specialist care into general health areas for many years. The concept has been adapted to develop palliative care skills in the aged care sector. The Australian General Practice Network, under the Rural Palliative Care Program, created several projects that promoted palliative care link nurses in residential aged care facilities.

Staff in RAC can consult with specialist palliative care teams on the care of residents. The palliative care nurses may make a site visit or provide remote support as the situation demands. Specialist palliative care nurses maybe employed in RAC as clinical nurse specialists or nurse practitioners.

Roles of Specialist Palliative Care Nurses 

  • Clinical care of residents or clients and support for staff providing palliative care
  • Counselling, advocacy and support to the person and families
  • Liaising with GPs and allied health professionals regarding provision of palliative care services 
  • Education of staff and volunteers
  • Undertaking and evaluating projects to improve palliative care
  • Quality improvement and auditing of palliative care delivery
  • Research

Page created 13 March 2019


  • Find out more

  • Related palliAGED pages

  • The national palliative care initiatives and programs aim to improve access to and quality of palliative care and program details can be found on the Department of Health and Aged Care website
  • Program of Experience in the Palliative Approach (PEPA) is also funded by the Department of Health and Ageing and implements education, training, workshops and specialist clinical placements to improve the both the expertise of health practitioners and collaboration between service providers. PEPA has allowed many nurses and other aged care staff to develop skills and expertise in the palliative approach to care.