Self-Care Supporting Staff Working in Palliative Care

What we know

Caring for people who are dying can cause stress and lead to burnout. Recognising that caring for older people generally includes caring for people who may die is an important first step in managing this stress. Developing self-awareness and setting up self-care strategies can protect against burnout. It can be helpful to debrief with work colleagues.

What can I do?

Prepare a self-care plan (83kb pdf) to help you identify activities and practices to support and sustain your wellbeing as a professional. This self-care plan has been written for aged care workforce.

Read Death and Loss our Emotional Response (192kb pdf) from Leading Age Services Australia

Check out Nurse & Midwife Support available for all nurses and midwives, nursing and midwifery students, employers, educators and concerned family and friends.

You can refer to DRS4DRS for information about the health and wellbeing of Australian doctors and medical students.


What can I learn?

CareSearch has information about Self-care including Contributing Factors. There are more factsheets and education resources available at the bottom of the page in 'Find out more' section.

Check out the Therapeutic Guidelines: Palliative Care (subscription required)


What can my organisation do?

Enable opportunities for self-care planning under staff wellbeing initiatives.

Promote the availability of Nurse & Midwife Support for all nurses and midwives, nursing and midwifery students, employers, educators and concerned family and friends.

Promote access to counselling services.

Consider clinical supervision as a formalised support for staff. The Palliative Care Bridge has information: clinical supervision - caring for the care provider.

Create structured opportunities for staff to use reflective practice (108kb pdf).

Consider creating either formal or informal teams of allied health professionals assisting patients in their palliative care for debrief and inter-professional support - particularly for rural and remote practitioners e.g. GP, nurse, counsellor, psychologist, dietitian.

Monitoring for signs of burnout may be useful for palliative care team leaders, useful tools could include the Maslach Burnout Inventory (subscription required).

Remember that staff providing at home support may be working in isolation and it is important to provide them with an opportunity to meet and de-brief.

In line with Standard 9.6 of the Palliative Care National Standards (2018), provide education and training to staff in self-care strategies and how to access support.

Support of the workforce is required within the Aged Care Standards. Check out the In Focus article series on the Aged Care Standards.

Page updated 07 July 2021