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Table of Contents

What is palliative care?

Our CORE values

What services are available

What to expect when someone is deemed palliative/end of life in the ICU

What Does Palliative Care Mean?

Palliative care is a person and family-centred approach to providing care to someone with an active, progressive and/or advanced disease where there is little or no prospect of curative treatment. When someone is palliated, death is an expected outcome and goals of care changes to optimise comfort and quality of life.

In intensive care, the transition from active treatment to palliative/end of life care can often be sudden and unexpected. We recognise that this is an overwhelming and highly emotional time for families and friends. Palliative care is just as much a family-centred model of care as it is patient centred. Meaning that one of our goals of care is in providing families and carers with as much practical and emotional support as needed.

Our Core Values

Our practice and care for those who are end of life and their families follows along with the NSW Health End of Life and Palliative Care Framework 2019-2024. This framework addresses 5 priority areas to ensure holistic, accessible and high-quality care. These areas address:

  • Person-centred care

  • Recognition and support for families and carers

  • Access to care providers across all settings who are skilled and competent in caring for those who require end of life / palliative care.

  • Integrated and well-coordinated care across all members of the treating team to ensure good communication and continuation of care

  • Access to equitable care

What Services are available?

Our team consists of members from a range of different health and social support professions and backgrounds such as:

  • Doctors and Nurses

  • Social Workers

  • Physiotherapists

  • Allied Health

  • Spiritual/Pastoral Practitioners

  • Aboriginal Health Worker

  • Hospital Liaison Officer

Health is a 24hr practice, meaning normal 9-5 services such as social work are available out of hours to support our patients and their families/carers.

The direct phone line numbers to each ICU side are attached on our website. Feel free to call any time.

We acknowledge that the ICU environment is often noisy and disruptive. As a way of addressing this, we have introduced the use of a symbol that will be displayed outside the room of our end-of-life patients to help reduce interruption and increase awareness regarding noise level around the bed space.

What to expect when someone is deemed palliative/end of life in the ICU

  • Communication from our ICU team. This can happen at the bedside, over the phone and through organised or emergency family meetings. Our nurses at the bedside are also available and happy to answer questions or help facilitate a comfortable environment for our patients and families.

  • The care we provide is individualised and often the care will be dependent on the individuals needs and circumstances.

  • Our priority for our palliative and end of life patients is in promoting comfort and dignity. This includes symptom management such as relief of pain, agitation, or shortness of breath.

  • Referral to social work for emotional support and grief counselling.

  • Support for patients and families to meet certain religious or cultural requirements.

  • Bereavement packages for families.

  • Our nurses are also happy to support the collection of any memorabilia such as handprints.

  • All patients are referred to our organ donation coordinator regardless or organ donation status. This process is designed so that, if eligible, discussions can happen about whether it is for or against the wants and beliefs of our patients and families. Organ donation is a choice.

End of Life Care

End of Life Care

More Information


Visiting the ICU

Please access for more information regarding visiting times, our recommendation for children visiting the ICU and if a member of your family is unwell.

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Taking Care of Yourself

It is vital that you take the time to look after yourself and reach out for support and guidance during this stressful time. We have provided a number of tips and recourses on ways that can help you during your journey as a family member in the ICU.

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Patient Safety

Patient safety is an essential component of high-quality care provided in the ICU. Our team have worked hard to establish a number of tools and strategies that ensures the ICU provides safe care, in the context of evidence-based practice and the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) requirements.

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The ICU Environment

We understand that entering the ICU can be very overwhelming. The environment is often very busy with many unfamiliar sights and sounds. We hope that this page can better orientate you to the bedspace and the various equipment you may encounter.

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Medical Rounds

Please access for further information about medical rounds within the ICU including rounding times, what rounds involve and how to receive updates from the medical team.

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Spiritual Care

In Nepean ICU we aim to accommodate for all kinds of spiritual care required and welcome families to speak to the team for recourses available within the hospital or to organise their own external support.

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Helpful Tips

Please access for further information that you might find helpful during your ICU journey including, accommodation, parking, bathrooms, food and beverage, mobile phones, flowers and balloons as well as taking notes.

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Your ICU Team

The Nepean ICU team consider patients and their families a central and vital part of our team. We value working together to deliver high quality care with compassion and respect to every patient. Our team are here to support and guide you and your loved one through this ICU admission.

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We understand that it can be very difficult to see your loved one acting differently or in a state of confusion. Please access for more information about delirium.

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End of Life Care

The transition from active treatment to palliative/end of life care in ICU can often be sudden and unexpected. We recognise this is an overwhelming and emotional time for families and friends.

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Beyond Critical Care

Leaving critical care and going to the ward is an important step in your recovery process as your ICU stay only plays a small part in your journey in hospital. The following information will help you and your family learn more about the ward environment and provide information about your recovery process.

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