End of life: Palliative care

Palliative care is treatment and care to people living with a terminal illness. It focuses on managing symptoms and maintaining quality of life.

Palliative care aims to:

  • Affirm life and regard dying as a normal process
  • Neither hasten nor postpone death
  • Provide relief from pain and distressing symptoms
  • Integrate physical (tinana), social (whānau), emotional (hinengaro) and spiritual (wairua) aspects of care to help you and your family/whānau attain an acceptable quality of life
  • Offer help to your family, whānau or carers during your illness and their bereavement

Palliative care can be provided in different places, including your home, in hospital, at a care home or in a hospice.

How to receive palliative care

Your GP, district nurse or hospital doctor may refer you to palliative care services, or you may wish to contact a hospice directly to learn what support might be available to you. Click here to find hospice services near you.

Who provides palliative care?

Palliative care services are often provided by a multidisciplinary team that works with you and your family/whānau. Teams may be made up of you and your family/whānau, community carers, doctors, nurses, dietitians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, psychologists and social workers.

Managing common symptoms

Palliative care aims to identify what is most important to you and may help you manage symptoms like:

  • Pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Breathlessness
  • Weakness and fatigue

For more information on ways these symptoms can be managed, visit the Health Navigator website

Planning ahead

It is important your wishes and care plan are also documented and known in case you become unable to make or communicate decisions at some point in the future. To plan for the future, make sure to set up an Enduring Power of Attorney, a will and an advance care plan.

Planning for your future in case of diminished decision making capacity is import to ensure that the care you receive at the end of your life is comfortable and meets your wishes. 

Websites of interest