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When is a referral to palliative care appropriate?

A referral to Specialist Palliative Care (SPC) is appropriate for the direct management/support/advice of patients and families/whanau in situations where there are complex palliative care needs.

A referral to Specialist Palliative Care for “complex need” emphasizes that this is a level of need that exceeds the resources of the generalist team and may be in any of the domains of care – physical, psychological, spiritual, social, or intellectual.

A referral to Specialist Palliative Care is appropriate when:

It should be noted that many patients may still be receiving active treatment for their underlying disease process; the Palliative Care Team will work alongside the referring team to ensure that both symptomatic management and support is maximized. On occasions a member of the SPC may be asked to assist with psychological/ emotional support for the primary clinical team (such as de-briefing) and this would be done on an as-needed basis.

See the Referral Criteria for Adult Palliative Care Services in New Zealand.

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Topic Code: 11340