Palliative Care - Support for Helpers
What is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is person and family-centred care provided for a person with a life limiting illness and who is expected to die. Palliative care helps people live their life as fully and as comfortably as possible when living with a life limiting illness. Each person receiving this type of care has unique physical, practical, emotional, psychological, social, cultural and spiritual needs. Life limiting illnesses include some cancers, lung and kidney disease, motor neurone disease, dementia, and other conditions.
The person may live for years, months or weeks. This depends on the nature of the illness and each person is different. Palliative care may increase, reduce or stop, as a persons needs change. It is not limited to the last days or weeks of life. End-of-life care is the last few weeks of life in which a patient with a life-limiting illness is rapidly approaching death. This phase of palliative care is recognised as one in which increased services and support are essential to ensure quality, coordinated care from the health care team is being delivered.
Palliative care can include relief of pain and symptoms, support and respite for family and friends providing care, provision of equipment, support for emotional and spiritual needs, counselling and grief/bereavment services. People of all ages, cultures and beliefs can benefit from palliative care, which respects their needs and wishes.
Who provides Palliative Care?
Palliative care can be provided by doctors, nurses, health professionals, aged and disability services, specialised palliative care teams and community carers. This care can be provided any time from time of diagnoses throughout the illness. It may be be provided at home, hospice, in a hospital or care facility.
Information and resources for Helpers
There are many free educational resources available for Helpers who are supporting Members receiving palliative care. Please see below links to online resources available.
Palliative Care Australia
- What is Palliative Care
- Variety of resources and supports available here.
- Links to representing bodies in each state available here.
Cancer Council Australia
The Palliative Care Bridge
Over 30 online practice fact sheets from palliAGED available for Helpers here including:
- Talking about dying
- Person centred care
- Grief and loss among older people and families
- Spiritual Care
- Signs of imminent death
- Culturally Responsive Care - Communication
- People with disability - Communication
- Advanced Care Planning
ELDAC - End of Life Directions for Aged Care
- The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association has developed an online training program to assist health professionals who provide palliative care in community aged care. This free online training will help you develop your skills and confidence and covers the knowledge and values needed to communicate and care for people with a life-limiting illness and/or are approaching the final stages of the normal ageing process. A fact sheet on the course is available here and you can enrol here.
CareSearch - Palliative Care Knowledge Network
- There are a variety of resources and network connections available on their website, click here to explore.
Self-care for Helpers and preventing burnout
Caring for people is a rewarding job however at times it can be stressful and emotional. Providing care to a person who is dying is a high risk time for carers to experience stress and burnout. Developing self awareness and setting up self care strategies can protect against burnout and help maintain a healthy balance in your own life. It is also important you take time to acknowledge and process the grief you may experience before and after the passing of a Member.
Self-care is a range of skills, information and attitudes that you can use to protect and maintain your emotional, psychological and physical health and well-being.
Here are some suggestions on how you can ensure you are taking care of yourself as a Helper
- Prepare a Self-Care plan to sustain your own well-being - click here for more information and here to view an example template.
- Debrief with other Helpers in the Member's team - view the 'People' tab in the FGF App for contact details of other Helpers in the team.
- Contact your Care Team for support - reach out to your Care Manager or Helper Coordinator anytime for advice, debriefing or to discuss any concerns. Contact details for the team available in the app. You can always call the Helper Hotline on 07 3532 0796 for support 24/7.
- Be aware of signs of burnout and seek support from your Care Team. Signs can include: physical and emotional exhaustion, sleep disturbances, negativity, feeling, lack of motivation, absence from work, lack of enjoyment.
- Access our Employee Assistance Program which we extend to Helpers also for professional and confidential support from trained counsellors.