Skip to main content

Palliative Care: Patients and carers

Symptom management

Pain and other symptoms can cause distress during a life-threatening illness. Breathing problems, stomach upset and loss of appetite, insomnia, delirium, and even itching can all be addressed by the palliative care team. If you have any concerns or require any further information please discuss this with your palliative care health worker.

More about the after-hours service

The after-hours Palliative Care phone service can:

  • Assess your problems from a nursing perspective
  • Provide advice, education and support
  • Advise you how to manage symptoms using your medications and other techniques
  • Guide you through administering medications over the phone
  • Liaise with doctors or a Barwon Health nurse over the phone
  • Arrange a Barwon Health nurse to visit you to provide an urgent assessment, support or administer medications
  • Advise you when you need to see a doctor urgently or where this can wait until the next day
  • Advise you what to do in an emergency, or where death is imminent
  • Advise what to do or organise a Barwon Health nurse to visit where death has occurred
  • Provide information about business hours services to seek out
  • Direct you to good quality Australian or Victorian websites and helplines
  • Just listen and be there.

The after-hours Palliative Care phone service cannot: 

  • Make a medical diagnosis or prognosis
  • Advise you to use medication or doses not prescribed by your doctors
  • Arrange a nurse to visit if the situation is not urgent, where medications are not available in the home for them to use or if there is no nurse available to visit (remote locations or if there is a risk posed to the visiting nurse)
  • Arrange a hospice or hospital bed if one is not available at the time
  • Ring an ambulance for you
  • Be expected to have all the most up-to-date information about you
  • Go against your wishes (unless you are asking for a nurse to visit where one is not available or this has been deemed unsuitable).

Carers support

Barwon Health Carer Respite Services

Carer support in the Geelong region is available via the Barwon Health Carer Respite Services.

Carer Respite Services provide:

  • Information and referral for carers and the person they care for
  • Emotional support and referral to the National Carer Counselling Program
  • Support to arrange respite when family carers need to take a break from the caring role
  • Emergency in-home respite when carers are unable to cope or provide care
  • Workshops and activities for carers. FreeCall 1800 052 222.

Carers Safety and Information kit 

The Barwon Health Palliative Care program service is currently developing a Carers Safety & Information Kit for Palliative Care carers. The information kit, when completed, shall complement resources already provided to patients and carers and shall consist of information cards providing practical advice regarding the completion of specific tasks. The information cards shall not replace the hands-on education and assessment by nursing staff of the carer/s or patients.


Medical and nursing equipment may be required at times to support someone’s care at home. The Palliative Care program can assist people to access appropriate equipment to meet their needs. To find out more about how to access equipment, please click here to contact us.

Further information

Carer resources can be found on the Carer Help website. The website provides further information on:

  • Living with illness
  • How to care
  • At the end
  • Bereavement, grief and loss
  • Groups with specific needs

Bereavement Care

Providing bereavement support is an important part of palliative care and all bereaved people, who have been cared for by the Barwon Health Palliative Care program shall be contacted to ensure they receive the support appropriate to them. All bereaved people are invited to a 'Time of Reflection and Remembrance' service which is held every six months, and conducted in collaboration with staff from Barwon Health Cancer Services Supportive Care Team.

Bereavement care may include:

  • Professional assessment of potential outcomes for the bereaved individual/family prior to and at the time of death
  • Ongoing assessment of grief experience dependent on individual need
  • Grief and loss counselling (individual, couple and family-centred, depending on need), referral, as relevant, to appropriate services such as mental health services, bereavement care therapeutic group programs including the Life After Loss group for women who have experienced the death of a husband or partner
  • Social support responses e.g. memorial events, participation within peer support and social group activities
  • Education-based responses e.g. referral to community services relevant to need
  • Project work aimed at strengthening communities’ capacity to support their bereaved members.

Time of Reflection and Remembrance

The Reflection and Remembrance service, which is spiritual but not religious in focus, is offered approximately every six months to people who have been bereaved over the past 13 months and have received care from Barwon Health Palliative Care Program, Barwon Health Cancer Services and/or the Bellarine Palliative Care program.

The Time of Reflection and Remembrance is generally held at Lyndon Grove (131 Surfcoast Highway, Grovedale) at 6pm on Wednesdays. Invitations are forwarded to bereaved people approximately six weeks prior to the service. Generally, people shall be invited to two services following their bereavement.

For further information regarding the Time of Reflection and Remembrance Services please contact:
Barwon Health Palliative Care Intake and Resource Worker
P 03 4215 5700
Monday to Friday 8.30 am to 4.30 pm

Last Modified: Tuesday, 28 November 2023


T 03 4215 5700