The holistic care of patients with advanced, progressive, incurable illness, focused on the management of a patient's pain and other distressing symptoms and the provision of psychological, social and spiritual support to patients and their family. Palliative care is not dependent on diagnosis or prognosis, and can be provided at any stage of a patient's illness, not only in the last few days of life. The objective is to support patients to live as well as possible until they die and to die with dignity.

Patients are 'approaching the end of life' when they are likely to die within the next 12 months. This includes patients whose death is imminent (expected within a few hours or days) and those with:

  • advanced, progressive, incurable conditions
  • general frailty and co-existing conditions that mean they are expected to die within 12 months
  • existing conditions if they are at risk of dying from a sudden acute crisis in their condition 
  • life-threatening acute conditions caused by sudden catastrophic events