Accessing palliative care - what you need to know. Sometimes accessing palliative care can be more difficult for people from diverse backgrounds. Here you can explore what is available and find out how to access services.
The focus of palliative care is quality of life. This may be very different to the types of care you are familiar with. If you want to know more about palliative care in your language, click on the following to find videos and/or podcasts from CareSearch.
Click on the different care providers in the image below to learn where and how you can access palliative care support, what care is provided, and who pays. We also have an accessible version of this information.
Home and community care services offer a range of services in the home and in community settings. There are many different service providers including district nurses and care agencies. Not all providers offer the same services. Some home care providers offer packages of care. Level 3 and 4 packages of care are for those with high care needs. There is a palliative care supplement available for those that are eligible. This provides extra funds to cover the cost of palliative care services.
The Government will subsidise home care services for those 65 years and over (50 years and over for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders) and Veterans. People with disability may be eligible for NDIS funding to pay full fees for care provided. The amount of subsidy will depend on how old you are and what you have been assessed for. If you are not eligible for subsidies due to your age you may have to pay full fees.
If you are 65 years and over (50 years and over for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders) you must apply for an assessment through the My Aged Care website.
If you have a DVA card, you will need a referral from your GP.
If you have a disability, to access NDIS funding you can apply using the Access Request Form on the National Disability Insurance Scheme website.
If under 65 years of age and not eligible for subsidies, you may be able to self refer or be referred to services by a health professional.
The Australian ambulance service consists of highly trained professionals. Some states (SA and NSW) have extended care paramedics that have received specialised training in palliative care.
You must pay for the ambulance service unless you have private health insurance that will cover the cost. You can also buy insurance directly from the state Ambulance services to cover this.
For ambulance services Call 000
The term allied health covers a wide range of health professionals but not doctors or nurses. They can provide a broad range of care in most settings. This includes help to maintain your mobility and independence. Those that are commonly used in palliative care are:
In some settings, there may be a fee that you must pay for these services. Some people are eligible for government subsidies. Ask health professionals for more information.
Specialist Palliative care teams may have allied health as part of their team and can refer you.
Health professionals that are involved in your care can refer you directly to a service provider or via My Aged Care to receive subsidised care.
You can refer yourself which may result in paying full fee for service or out of pocket costs when using you private health insurance.
The pharmacist plays an important role in your palliative care. Pharmacists work closely with doctors and nurses.
The pharmacist is a free service. The Government subsidises many medications but you will still have to pay some of the cost. When you spend a lot on medications, the PBS Safety Net can help to reduce your costs. Home medication reviews are a free service where the pharmacist looks at all of your medications with you to help with any difficulties.
The pharmacist works in a pharmacy. These are usually located within your community and you can simply walk in to ask for advice. The GP must provide prescriptions for the pharmacist to fill and can also refer you for a home medication review. To access the PBS Safety Net you must visit the Services Australia website.
The Pharmacy Guild and Australian Association of Consultant Pharmacy (AACP) have websites where you can search for a pharmacist based on your postcode, the services offered, and opening hours. You can also search AACP to find a pharmacist who speaks a certain language.
There is a lot you can do with the support of those around you. Here is an example of some of the people you may have at home to support you with your palliative care needs:
Planning ahead and making appointments
Transport and support for appointments
General home care
You and your family will pay.
Often people with life limiting illness find that they need some extra support to remain safe at home. Ask those around you to support you with your needs. If you require more support at home, there are services you can access such as home help, and community volunteer groups such as Meals on Wheels and Compassionate Communities.
Most people can be cared for by their GP and community services. But sometimes you may need specialist palliative care or emergency treatment for more complex needs. This level of care is found in hospitals (including specialist palliative care), tertiary care, and hospice.
In hospital, you will see specialist palliative care staff. They will work together with community palliative care services to assess and manage your palliative care needs
This can be outpatients services or programs that may help you to improve your health for example
When staying at home for end-of-life care is no longer an option you may be able to stay in an in-patient palliative care unit called a ‘hospice’. Hospice units are often attached to hospitals or aged care facilities. Benefits include:
These services are usually paid for by Medicare (for Australian citizens and residents)
You may attend via:
Advocacy services focus on the needs, wishes and rights of a person, while maintaining confidentiality. They are there to help you get the treatment and care that you need and have a right to receive.
Most services are free.
Visit the My Aged Care website, the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN), or visit the National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP).
A General Practitioner (GP) is a doctor working at a general practice or clinic within your community. They work with other health professionals such as nurses, dietitians, and some complimentary therapists to manage your health care needs.
Tests, Diagnosis, symptom management, care planning, prescribe medication, refer to other services, family meetings, nursing tasks such as wound care and general health assessments.
Medicare (for Australian residents and citizens) covers most of the cost. Gap fees may apply if your GP does not bulk bill. For some complementary therapies a fee may apply. If you have private health insurance, you may pay a gap fee.
Contact your GP surgery or clinic to make an appointment. Some GP’s will home visit palliative care patients if requested.
If you can no longer live at home because you need ongoing help with everyday tasks, the government funds a range of aged care homes across Australia.
There are fees and subsidies for aged care homes. To find out more about how to be assessed for an aged care home and how much it may cost, visit My Aged Care website, and apply for an assessment.
When you have had an assessment, you will be approved for the level of care that you require. You can contact aged care homes to ask for a tour. When you have decided where you would like to live, you can ask to be placed on their waiting list. When a place becomes available, they will contact you.
Knowing what you need help with is the first step to accessing palliative care. Sometimes there are barriers that make this more difficult for you.
To find resources that can help you to overcome some of these barriers, click a statement that describes your needs:
Page created 29 October 2021