Palliative Care

Palliative care helps people to live their lives as fully and comfortably as possible by treating each individual’s symptoms to improve their quality of life.  

Palliative care can be provided at any time during the course of a serious or life limiting illness.

Palliative care is not just about treatment at the end of life as many people in the community still believe. Many people with cancer and other serious diseases may receive palliative care and treatment for years. 

Specialist palliative care doctors and nurses are experts in treating pain and other symptoms, such as vomiting or shortness of breath associated with cancer or its treatment.  

Emotional, spiritual and social needs, counselling and respite care are also important parts of palliative care. 

Palliative care is available to people of any age with a serious illness. It can be given alongside other cancer treatments, and provided at home, in a hospital, hospice (palliative care unit) or residential aged care facility.  

“The nurses help with my pain management and physical well-being, and liaised with my GP. The counsellor supported my spiritual well-being. They’ve helped me to maintain a positive and pragmatic outlook”. 

Jock, prostate cancer patient

Palliative and other cancer treatments  

Some people who took part in the Older and Wiser study, talked to us about their experiences of having to wait for palliative care until after the end of active cancer therapy. If you find yourself in this situation, you may find it helpful to refer to the Optimal Care Pathway for a guide to best cancer care of your particular cancer. In these guides palliative care is described as important throughout the cancer pathway and alongside cancer treatment

Recent research has found that people who have access to palliative care early in their cancer pathway tend to do better. These studies show that people who have early palliative care live longer with fewer symptoms, and have better quality of life than patients who do not have early palliative care. 

Moments that Matter captures real stories of people, the things that matter most to them when they have a serious or life limiting illness, and how palliative care has supported them during these times.  

Listen to Jock’s experience and how he managed his pain with the support of palliative care.


John’ wife Margot loved her home and being at home. Community Palliative care were a great support for their family. Watch here.