Family Carers

Family Carers

What we know

Family and friends may be a carer for an older person needing palliative care. They provide physical and emotional support and assistance.  However, caring can be physically and emotionally demanding. Carers and families can benefit from support and assistance to enable them to continue caring.

What can I do

Recognise and acknowledge the role and contribution of the carer.

Suggest that they make use of palliAGED form for self-care of carers (72kb pdf).

Some people may find themselves reluctantly in the role of carer. Help them to talk about their preferences and wishes. Questions for carers to ask the team caring for your loved one (from Palliative Care Australia) may help guide this discussion.

A distinction may need to be made between comforting and accompanying a dying person and providing physical or medical care. Clarify what role(s) a carer may be willing to take on. Some may not be comfortable providing some tasks such as complex medication management.

Provide carers and family members with the CareSearch booklet Palliative Care Support for Patients, Carers and Families.

Suggest to carers that they visit the CarerHelp resources for information and resources on coping with the carer role.

Encourage carers and family members to engage with activities along with residents where possible.


Suggest respite care to a carer or a family member.

You can use the following assessment tools to help a carer understand his/her needs:


What can I learn?

Carers NSW has factsheets on: Assertiveness for carers (67kb pdf)  and How and why to hold a family meeting (56kb pdf).

Carer Needs Tool and Supporting Carers from CareSearch.

Carer needs and family meetings are explained in this PCC4U learning module.

The Community Visitors Scheme may be a way to connect a carer whose quality of life would be improved by friendship and companionship. Watch the Aged Care Channel Community Visitors Scheme video which explains how this service helps recipients of Australian Government subsidised aged care services (residential and home care).


What can my organisation do?

Make sure a carer and family members know who to contact if there is an emergency or when a critical change occurs.

Even though family meetings may occur regularly, ensure that a family meeting occurs after a critical change point.

Develop a kit of information for carers

  • Carer Payment
  • contact details of local support services
    • carer services
    • support groups
    • education resources for carers
    • respite
    • in-home services
Ensure that there is a mechanism for exchanging information in relation to the care of a person receiving palliative care; something as simple as a notebook can be helpful to record what has happened.

Page updated 31 July 2020