Palliative Care Services
Palliative care is specialised care and support provided for someone living with a life-limiting illness. It can be provided by a number of different health professionals depending on the illness and the needs and resources of the patient, their family and caregivers. Some people may need the assistance of a specialist palliative care service. Others are cared for by their own doctor and health professionals in the community.
In Queensland to help find palliative care services and other practical support we have PalAssist, funded by Queensland Health and provided by Cancer Council Queensland. PalAssist is a Queensland-wide, no-cost 24-hour telephone and online service for palliative care patients, carers, family and friends seeking practical information and emotional support. Their charter is to provide accurate information, referral advice and compassionate support to those dealing with a life-limiting or terminal illness. PalAssist is operated by a team of health professionals with nursing, social work and counselling experience. They offer individualised support and advice and can be contacted on 1800 772 273 or via their website.
Palliative Care Australia has also developed the National Palliative Care Service Directory to help improve access to quality palliative care. You can use this to find a specialist palliative care service near you. Other types of services are also included in the database.
Loss of income from and the costs of dealing with a serious illness can be stressful to you and your family. Thankfully palliative care costs are usually covered by Medicare or private insurance. However you may need to pay for medication or hire equipment in addition to the ongoing costs of living. Financial support through a carer’s allowance, (not means tested) or pension, (means tested) may be an option through Centrelink, while others may be able to access insurance or their superannuation. The sites below off more detailed advice though seeing a social worker or a financial planner in person may be required.
The PalAssist Guide to Palliative Care in Queensland brochure also contains advice on financial assistance. It can be downloaded from here.
CareSearch Palliative Care Knowledge Network has information on the costs of care, advice on where to find financial advice, available financial resources and accessing insurance or superannuation.
CentreLink Website has a section for carers with a Payment Finder function to assist determining what financial support may be available to you.
Carers Queensland has a no interest loan scheme available to carers on low income. Further information is available here.
Help with a complaint
Palliative Care Queensland promotes the provision of end of life care that is client centered, evidence based, and consistent with Palliative Care Australia's Standards for providing quality palliative care for all Australians. When care is provided using these principles, it is far more likely that patients will experience comfortable dignified deaths, leading to patients and families experiencing quality of life during their remaining valuable time.
In some instances, care provided to patients and families at the end of life does not meet the immediate needs of all involved, a situation that can lead patients, families or carers to feel powerless and uncertain. In these situations, it is imperative that you approach your treating team as soon as possible to voice your concerns.
In instances where you are unsatisfied with the treatment provided by your healthcare team, or you have voiced your concerns to your treating team and you are not satisfied with their response, a formal complaints process can be employed by the treating hospital or organisation. Ask to speak with the patient liaison officer about your concerns, or contact the organisation's management directly to enquire about its complaints handling process.
If you have made a complaint using appropriate channels and remain unsatisfied with the care that is being provided or the response to your complaint, you may also contact the Office of the Health Ombudsman for further assistance.