The term palliative care is used to describe the care and support that is provided to people who have a life threatening illness.

Where cure is unlikely or impossible, the goals of care change to focus on enhancing quality of life. Palliative care means that the patient’s comfort and dignity become the priority and adequate support is provided to them and their families and carers. It has been said that palliative care is about "adding life to years, not years to life".

Palliative care does not mean withdrawing all treatment. Indeed, very active interventions such as antibiotics, blood transfusions, and cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy may be helpful in alleviating symptoms and improving a patients’ quality of life.

Palliative and Supportive Care provides services to:

  • relieve pain and other distressing symptoms
  • affirm life and regards dying as a normal process
  • neither to hasten or postpone death
  • integrate the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care
  • offer a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death
  • offer a support system to help the family cope during the patients illness and in their own bereavement
  • enhance quality of life, and may also positively influence the course of illness

Palliative care is applicable early in the course of illness, in conjunction with other therapies intended to prolong life, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, and includes those investigations needed to better understand and manage distressing clinical complications.

As part of the new Victorian Compressive Cancer Centre, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and The Royal Women’s Hospital are partnering to deliver a comprehensive and coordinated palliative care service across the Parkville Precinct. Our clinicians and nursing consultants work across both Peter Mac and The Royal Melbourne Hospital as an integrated service.

Inpatient services

The service for inpatients offers:

  • Advice regarding pain and symptom management for inpatients with a life limiting illness
  • Assessment for inpatient palliative care
  • Complex discharge planning advice and assistance
  • Bereavement counselling and advice
  • Assessment for Community Palliative Care Service

Referrals for inpatients can be made by both direct contact with staff members of the Palliative and Supportive Care Service or by internal referral.

Specialised services

Palliative and Supportive Care Unit

Our Palliative and Supportive Care Unit is a 12 bed specialist unit. Patients are admitted to the unit for a variety of reasons, including for management of complex pain, investigation and management of illnesses and other symptoms.

Where possible, the unit assists patients to return to their home, with the support of community-based palliative care service providers. The unit is open 24 hours a day, every day. The unit is staffed by a specialist team of medical, nursing and allied health staff, with visiting pastoral care and volunteer staff and a program of evidence-based Wellness therapies and programs.

Palliative Care consulting service

We offer specialised palliative care consulting services. We can assist with managing patients' pain and symptoms, including emotional and spiritual distress, in conjunction with their treatment team, discharge planning, including linking in with community-based support services, and admissions to the Palliative and Supportive Care Unit.

Our team comprising of a medical and a nursing consultant are available to see patients on referral whether they are admitted to The Royal Melbourne Hospital City Campus or Royal Park Campus or are attending an outpatient clinic.


Nephrology Supportive Care City Campus Outpatients, Level 1 South East WED
Pallative Advanced Lung City Campus Outpatients, Level 1 South East
Palliative Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre within the VCCC Building MON, THU


We accept referrals for this service.

Referrals are triaged depending on priority. Emergency cases can present to the Emergency & Trauma Service at any time.

To refer a patient, complete and fax your referral to Palliative Care on (03) 9342 4928.

You can use the following form or a template from your own system:

Referrals should include:

  • relevant clinical history for the patient
  • the reason for referral
  • patient details including address, date of birth and contact phone numbers
  • your details and provider number
  • the name of the consultant (for Medicare clinics)

Special referral instructions

A referral to the Palliative Care and Support Service may be appropriate for patients as follows:

  • Pain and symptom management issues
  • Advanced progressive disease
  • Non-curable disease with limited prognosis
  • Entering end-of-life care phase
  • Assessment of referral to inpatient palliative care units or palliative care community supports
  • Complex discharge planning issues
  • Significant psycho-social care issues
  • Patient or family request
  • Patients who are known to the Palliative Care and Support Service from previous admissions / contact

The Palliative Care and Support Service is available to discuss the suitability of referral for any patient of the health service. It is important to note that there is no specific “prognosis limit” by which the service will accept referrals, and patients with any medical condition (including non-malignant illness) may be appropriate for referral.

For clinicians who are uncertain as to the appropriateness of referral for any patient, discussion with the service is encouraged:

  • Review of patients will only occur following a discussion with, and consent from the treating medical or surgical unit.
  • Referrals can be made by both direct contact with staff members of the Palliative Care Service or by internal referral.


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