Communicating with RAC Staff

Good palliative care aims to meet the needs of the individual at the end-of-life. A palliative approach helps with physical, emotional and spiritual comfort. It needs good communication between the resident, family and the staff. 

When someone is admitted to a residential aged care facility (RACF), nurses spend time with the new resident and their family. As they collect information, the staff learn about the resident. They find out how the person wishes to be cared for and how he or she wishes to live their life at the RACF. The staff use this to develop a plan of care that reflects the resident's needs and wishes.

Useful Tip

The term 'Family' is used in the broadest sense. The term family includes people identified by the person as family and may include people who are biologically related and people who joined the family through marriage or other relationships, as well as the family of choice and friends (including pets). [1]

Staff will ask the resident about the people who are important to him or her. They will ask for their names and contact details. They will identify who is to be the main contact. This is so staff know who to discuss care needs with, when the resident is not able to do so.

When a resident is approaching the end of their life, staff will review the resident's care needs and contact details for their family. It is important that contact details are correct. Staff will want to know if family wish to be called at any time. Some families only want to be called between certain hours. Having this detail can help prevent confusion, if the staff need to contact the family.

Staff may meet with family at different times during the resident’s stay including:

  • a few weeks after admission
  • from time to time during the residents stay at the RACF
  • when a resident appears to be approaching the end-of-life, or
  • at the request of the family.

A family meeting or palliative care case conference is a more formal meeting. This is where health professionals and the family can discuss care arrangements. This allows everyone to share their concerns. They can identify common goals and resolve conflict.

There are tools available that families can use to help them prepare for any discussions and to help them make decisions.

If you are concerned about the care of a resident, ask to see the registered nurse. You may want to have a family meeting or case conference. A registered nurse, clinical nurse, or manager will attend to this.

Useful Tip

Site managers / Care managers / Directors of Nursing in Aged Care tend to be very busy. While they will always make time to see families, making an appointment for a mutually convenient time is always appreciated. It also allows the manager to prepare properly for the meeting, and to allocate sufficient time to the meeting.

Page created 11 July 2019


  • Reference

  • Find out more

  • Related palliAGED pages

  1. Palliative Care Australia (PCA). Palliative Care Service Development Guidelines (340kb pdf). Canberra: PCA; 2018 Jan.

For Patients, Carers and Families