Palliative Care aims to improve the quality of life for patients and their families facing the problems associated with life-limiting illness. This can be achieved through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and treatment of pain and other problems, in the physical, psychological and spiritual domains.
Prior to referring a patient for Supportive and Specialist Palliative Care, it is recommended the referral criteria and reasons for referral provided below are considered.
The patient has a progressive or life limiting disease (malignant and/or non-malignant) and any of the following:
- The patient has symptoms that require specialist assessment/management and which are beyond the capacity of the primary care team to manage.
- The patient and/or their family have psychological, social or spiritual needs that require specialist assessment.
- The patient is dying and the primary care team requires additional support and/or advice.
NB: Patients who are having life prolonging treatment are not excluded from referral to palliative care.
All referrals to our consultation/liaison service, palliative care unit and community service within the HHS require completion of the referral form which must be signed by a named medical doctor. Incomplete referrals will be returned and may delay assessment.
All referred patients will be triaged and seen in order of clinical need. If you feel the patient requires urgent review please call the CNC/team member.
Specialist palliative care services available
One public purpose-built 16 bed palliative care unit is available for residents of the Gold Coast at Robina Hospital. In the future there may be inpatient beds at GCUH. In addition, there is a seven bed community ‘hospice’ unit at Hopewell Hospice. Located a few kilometres from GCUH, it is often used for terminal care that has one non-private bed available.
Patients are admitted to the Robina inpatient unit for:
- Short periods for pain and symptom control and other reasons defined within the Palliative Care Australia (PCA), and World Health Organisation (WHO) definition of palliative care
- Care during the last days of life when care at their or other homes is not possible.
The Palliative care unit is not a long-term facility, and patients who have issues which needed initial input from the unit may be discharged to more appropriate care including the generalist services and residential aged care facilities (RACFs) or the private hospice. We do not admit for respite.
The unit provide medical, nursing, allied health, diversional therapy, psychology, pharmacy, and spiritual care services. Additional services such as speech pathology, dietetics, interpretation services are available if required. Generally patients are admitted to the unit from the community (often a priority) or other hospitals. Assessment by the local Palliative care service is required before admission can occur. The unit does not provide longer-term nursing care for stable patients. Patients who are unable to return to community-based living are assisted to pursue residential care options. The decision for placement is reviewed regularly with regard to disease progression and symptom control. An overnight bed maybe available for family/caregivers and is allocated on a needs basis. Private patients are not billed a gap fee.
The Community Service team provide a consultative service in patients’ homes and provide support to the GP and other teams when necessary. There are no services currently to residential aged care facilities (nursing homes or hostels).
Gold Coast University Hospital has a dedicated medical and nursing team which provides consultative care five days a week. It does not admit patients under its care. There is no service to private hospitals.
When a palliative care patient passes away, the family, including significant others, receive follow up consultations by a Social Worker, Chaplain, Community Nurse or Medical Officer as appropriate. While their bereavement needs are constantly assessed from the first meeting with the patient and family, their immediate needs are assessed in the week following the passing of the patient. Ongoing support is arranged as is appropriate through other community services.
Information for patients, carers, families and health professionals
- Care at the end of life
- Care at the end of life for parents, carers and families
- Advance care planning
- Powers of Attorney
- Advance health directive
- Substitute decision-making
- QCAT decision-making for adults
- Statement of Choices, My Care My Choices
- Advanced health directive and Powers of Attorney - legal forms.