What we know

Most older people will be able to be able to receive palliative care and end-of-life care where they normally live. It is important to recognise that the care needs of people as they approach the end-of-life change. Referral for specialist palliative care may be appropriate for some people to manage severe symptoms, to respond to extreme distress or provide specific care planning support.

What can I do?

Palliative care referral is needs-based. If the care needs of the person cannot be managed by the local care team, think about referral.

Specialist palliative care services can have different referral practices. Palliative Care Australia maintains a national directory of palliative care services. You can check their referral criteria and if they have a specific form.

You may also need input from other professionals such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech pathologists, social workers or psychologists. healthdirect’s Service Finder can help you identify local providers.

Familiarise yourself with the online Make A Referral form on the myagedcare website. Make a Referral supports health and aged care professionals to refer an older person for an assessment.

Remember the Aged Care Single Framework standard 4 refers to supports for daily living including referrals to individuals, other organsiations and providers of other care and services

Support referral to local services including allied health via the chronic disease management program and under the Better Access to Mental Health Care Initiative.

What can I learn?

Check out the Advance Project training for General Practice Nurses in recognising and assessing palliative care needs in primary care.

Look through the palliAGED Education section for the many different learning options for aged care staff.

Read Deterioration in Parkinsion’s Disease (633kb pdf) from the Southern Metropolitan Palliative Care Consortium to learn about the symptoms that a person with Parkinson’s Disease may exhibit which can be an early indicator of the transition to the palliative stage of the person’s life.

What can my organisation do?

A Needs Assessment Tool: Progressive Disease (NAT: PD) (128kb pdf) can help determine if referral may be useful.

The Advance Project helps general practice nurses get involved with advance care planning and palliative care. Tell your staff about it.

Most palliative care services will have a referral sheet. Find your local palliative care service.

Be aware of the localised palliative care and advance care planning pathways (for doctors) available from local PHNs. The pathways provide clear concise guidance for referral to local health services as well as for assessment and management of the person.

Page updated 02 July 2021