Delivering a Healthy WA

WA Cancer and Palliative Care Network – Improving the Patient Experience

For patients receiving end-of-life or specialist palliative care and their families/carers

See below for the following information:

What is end-of-life and specialist palliative care?

To palliate means to “make (a disease or its symptoms) less severe without removing the cause”.

There are many definitions of palliative care across the world. Western Australia refers to the World Health Organisation (external site) definition of palliative care.

It is important to differentiate between the terms end-of-life care and specialist palliative care. End-of-life care is everyone’s business. Specialist palliative care builds on end-of-life care provided by the patient’s treating team. It is not an either-or-approach: both approaches are needed to add value to patient and family care.

Diagram explaining 'End-of-life care' and 'Specialist palliative care'

End-of-life care

An approach to care that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing life-limiting illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering. It involves early identification, and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems (physical, psychosocial and spiritual). This incorporates care for those diagnosed with a life-limiting illness or who are likely to die within a 12 month period, including those whose death is imminent.

Specialist palliative care

Services provided by health professional teams who have recognised qualifications or accredited training in palliative care. The role of specialist palliative care services includes providing direct care to patients with complex palliative care needs, and/or providing consultation services to support, advise and educate specialist and non-specialist teams who are providing end-of-life care.

Source: WA End-of-life and specialist palliative care strategy 2017-2027 (available soon)

How to access specialist palliative care

  • For people living in Perth: Contact your treating team (in hospital or your GP) for a medical referral to specialist palliative care.
  • For people living in country WA: Contact the Regional Specialist Palliative Care Service team for your area.

Go to specialist palliative care services for details on services available in your area.

Advance Care Planning

Advance Care Planning is an ongoing discussion between you, your loved ones and your health care professionals. It involves learning about the different choices available and choosing the type of medical care that is best for you. It can include:

  • gathering your thoughts
  • talking to someone close to you
  • talking to your doctor
  • letting your thoughts be known in writing

Advance Health Directives are legal documents in which adults can set out in writing their decisions about future treatment. They are used in all Australian states and territories but take on different forms and names.

Go to Advance Care Planning for more information.

End-of-life and specialist palliative care resources

Palliative Care Models of Care

Projects and publications



Babies, children and adolescents

Country Western Australia

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities (CALD)

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