What are the 5 stages of palliative care?
5 stages of palliative care

The 5 stages of palliative care

The 5 stages of palliative care became a widely recognised framework for palliative care following their creation by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The principles and goals of palliative care are widely recognised and applied in the Australian healthcare system. Palliative care in Australia has a clear focus. It is to provide extensive support and improve the quality of life for people with life-limiting illnesses. Australia’s palliative care framework includes:

Stage 1Stable – Creation

  • Palliative care is usually discussed when an individual is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Initially, the patient’s needs are assessed to determine the necessary level of care. The care plan will detail the services needed and how they may change as the patient’s illness progresses. The focus at this stage is for the patient to remain as independent as possible.

Stage 2Unstable – Adjustment

  • The specialist palliative care team will review the care plan if a patient’s illness worsens or new problems arise. They will adjust services to keep the patient as comfortable as possible. The palliative care teams provide emotional and psychological support to patients and their families. This is a key focus as they help prepare for the upcoming stages.

Stage 3Deteriorating – Shifting Focus

  • The palliative care team shift their focus to end of life care as the patient’s condition worsens. They frequently assess the care plan to ensure it remains appropriate.
  • For patient’s remaining in their own home, increased palliative support is considered to ensure the patient remains comfortable. Ongoing medical treatments are provided as appropriate including symptom relief and management.
  • A key focus is providing psychosocial, emotional, and spiritual care. As a result this care helps manage the emotions of everyone during this unprecedented time. Additionally, the palliative care team may provide advance care planning.

Stage 4Terminal – Patient Management and Care

  • During the terminal stage, the primary focus is to ensure the patient remains as comfortable as possible. Meanwhile, physical symptoms may include: – Loss of appetite – Difficulty swallowing – Changes in breathing patterns – Becoming bedridden – Drowsiness – Frequent medical interventions.
  • The palliative care team will provide more than just medical care. In addition, they will also focus on improving the quality of life for the individual and their families. This includes emotional and spiritual comfort.

Stage 5Bereavement – Support

  • In the final stage, the patient has passed away. The focus of care shifts to the family left behind and the provision of support tailored to each family member’s needs.

The National Framework and Guidelines direct palliative care in Australia. These include the National Palliative Care Strategy and the Palliative Care Outcomes Collaboration (PCOC). These national frameworks based on the 5 stages of palliative care, emphasise person-centered care, quality improvement, and end of life care principles. This particular type of care focuses on the person’s needs, not on their prognosis. 

At Colbrow Care, we focus on providing extensive, specialised support to individuals with life-limiting illnesses and their families. Our primary goal is to optimise quality of life. Call Colbrow Care today on 1300 33 11 03.

5 stages of palliative care