Palliative care is a specialized area of healthcare that focuses on relieving and preventing the suffering of patients. Unlike hospice care, palliative medicine is appropriate for patients in all disease stages, including those undergoing treatment for curable illnesses and those living with chronic diseases, as well as patients who are nearing the end of life. The goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life for patients, their families and caregivers by providing care that addresses the many needs patients, families and caregivers have: physical (including treatment of pain and other symptoms), emotional, social, cultural and spiritual.
Palliative medicine utilises a multidisciplinary approach to patient care, relying on input from physicians, nurses, chaplains, social workers, psychologists, and other allied health professionals in formulating a plan of care to relieve suffering in all areas of a patient's life (www.palliativecare.org.au).
Cabrini acute palliative care centre consists of a 20 bed hospital in Prahran and palliative care nurses providing services to patients in their own homes. They provide comprehensive support that encompasses medical, nursing, pastoral services, counselling, liaison with community services, referrals to physiotherapy, occupational therapy, psychology and bereavement counselling. Referral to this service can be made by any of the oncologists at OCV, who will subsequently work closely with the palliative care team.