Family Carers

Family Carers

What we know

Family and friends may be a carer for an older person needing palliative care. They provide physical and emotional support and assistance. However, caring can be physically and emotionally demanding. Carers and families may have needs relating to anxiety of managing symptoms and decision-making, being isolated, maintaining a relationship outside of the role of the ‘carer,’ and access to support which could include physical, emotional or financial assistance to enable them to continue caring.

What can I do?

Recognise and acknowledge the role and contribution of the carer.

A distinction may need to be made between comforting and accompanying a dying person and providing physical or medical care. Clarify what role(s) a carer may be willing to take on. Some may not be comfortable providing some tasks such as complex medication management.

Encourage carers and family members to engage with activities with residents or clients where possible.

Suggest to carers that they use palliAGED form for self-care of carers (205kb pdf) to help them look after their wellbeing.


Some people may find themselves reluctantly in the role of carer. To help them to talk about their preferences and wishes, Questions for carers to ask the team caring for your loved one (from Palliative Care Australia) may be a useful guide.

To help carers and family members understand what to expect and manage better in their role of carer, suggest that they use the freely available resources:


Suggest respite care to a carer or a family member.

Needs Assessment: 

To offer personalised support, you can use the following assessment tools:

Equipment Assessment:

To assist a person to remain at home safely and with more independence, an occupational therapist or physiotherapist may help with an assessment and the provision of equipment.

Financial Assistance:

Check out the CarerHelp Financial Matters (260kb pdf) fact sheet that provides information for carers on the types of financial assistance that are available.

What can I learn?


The Community Visitors Scheme may be a way to connect a carer whose quality of life would be improved by friendship and companionship. Watch the Aged Care Channel Community Visitors Scheme video which explains how this service helps recipients of Australian Government subsidised aged care services (residential and home care).

Use the PCC4U online learning module to learn about Supporting communities and carers.

What can my organisation do?

Make sure a carer and family members know who to contact if there is an emergency or when a critical change occurs.

Even though family meetings may occur regularly, ensure that a family meeting occurs after a critical change point.

Develop a kit of information for carers

  • Carer Payment
  • Financial Matters (260kb pdf) from Carer Help
  • contact details of local support services
    • carer services
    • support groups
    • education resources for carers
    • respite
    • in-home services
    • physical aids and equipment resources

Ensure that there is a mechanism for exchanging information in relation to the care of a person receiving palliative care; something as simple as a notebook can be helpful to record what has happened.

Page updated 13 October 2022