What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is the provision of care and support for people of all ages facing a life-limiting condition. Palliative care helps patients and their family/whānau throughout the illness, death, and bereavement. The palliative care approach focusses on meeting the needs of the whole person not just treating their condition.

If you have been diagnosed with a life-limiting condition, palliative care aims to:

  • Optimise your quality of life by managing symptoms.
  • Support you and your family/whānau to manage your needs, hopes and fears, and to help you to articulate what is important to you.
  • Equip your family/whānau and caregivers to support you while taking care of themselves.

Ensuring that people are living as well as possible is as important as ensuring a good death.

When and where is palliative care provided?

The diagnosis and treatment of a life-limiting condition can be mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting. Palliative care is available to anyone living with a life-limiting condition, such as advanced heart, kidney, lung disease, cancer, dementia, or progressive neurological disorders.

Palliative care services are not only helpful at the very end of life but can be relevant at any stage of the illness and are ideally involved soon after a person is diagnosed.

Palliative care can be provided wherever the person is, whether that is in the home, an aged-care facility, hospital, or hospice.

Who provides palliative care?

Palliative care is provided by a team; this includes family and community carers, General Practitioners, District Nurses, Community allied health practitioners, and specialist Hospice teams.

The level of support provided is dependent on the needs of the patient and their family/whānau.

Many patients will have their needs well met by their GP and District Nurse (Primary Palliative Care Service). Others with more complex needs will require the support of the specialist Hospice team (Specialist Palliative Care).

In Nelson Marlborough the specialist palliative care service is provided by Nelson Tasman Hospice (Nelson and Tasman regions) and Hospice Marlborough (Marlborough region).

Referrals and access to care

Referrals can come from GPs and other health providers or through self referral.


Hospice New Zealand

Palliative care | Ministry of Health NZ

Te Ara Whakapiri: Principles and guidance for the last days of life | Ministry of Health NZ