Palliative care not just for end of life

23 May 2022

The theme of National Palliative Care Week from 22- 28 May is ‘it’s your right’ – reminding us of our right to quality care, not only at the end of life but also while living with any life-limiting illness.

According to peak body Palliative Care Australia (PCA), while around 40,000 Australians receive palliative care each year, it estimates a further 40,000 are going without it.

This is not surprising when a 2021 PCA Survey found that while nine in ten of us have heard of palliative care, we don’t fully understand it.

The survey also found that half of the respondents had not done anything regarding their end-of-life wishes, finding the subject of death and planning for end-of-life too difficult to talk about.

To improve this, awareness raising and talking about end-of-life wishes is key, says SCCQ Board Director and palliative care specialist, Dr Phillip Good.

“Palliative care is not just about end-of-life care, it’s also about making sure that anyone with a life-limiting illness has the right to live as well as possible, for as long as possible,” Dr Good said.

Southern Cross Care Queensland’s Head of Pastoral Services, Julie Walden, says as well as necessary medical support, emotional and spiritual support are vital for both the person living with a life-limiting illness and their supporters, be they family or friends.

“At Southern Cross Care Queensland, we have an experienced team of dedicated pastoral carers available for all our residents and families and we are always here to lend support at a time when many people feel overwhelmed,” Julie said.

“We can offer comfort and practical advice as families navigate an emotionally charged and at times,  distressing time, including how to care not only for your loved one, but importantly, for yourself,” Julie said.

Dr Phillip Good is a strong advocate for expelling myths around palliative care in his roles as Director of Southern Cross Care Queensland, and in his work as a Palliative Care specialist clinician and researcher.