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Palliative Care


Palliative care is a multidisciplinary approach that strives to improve the quality of life of patients and their families facing a life limiting illness. 

We focus on prevention and relief of suffering by treating pain, and addressing physical, psychosocial and spiritual needs.

Palliative care can be applicable early in the course of an illness, while patients continue to have active treatments (chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery), aimed at both prolonging life and controlling symptoms.

The Royal Adelaide Hospital team - the Central Adelaide Palliative Care Service (CAPCS) - is part of an integrated, palliative care service across the Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN) catchment area.

Heads of service

  • Dr Linda Foreman - Director of Medical services
  • Ms Kathryn Pearce - Nursing Unit Manager (Community)
  • Ms Susan McArdle - Nursing Unit Manager (Inpatient)
  • Ms Elizabeth Wright - Psychosocial Lead

Our services

The Central Adelaide Palliative Care Service (CAPCS) provides:

  • inpatient at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (TQEH)
  • consultative services at the RAH and TQEH
  • outpatient clinics the RAH and TQEH
  • multidisciplinary Community Palliative Care Team, based at TQEH
  • specialist support to peri-urban and country services
  • links to other metropolitan palliative services.

In each of these situations various services can be offered, including:

  • palliative care assessment and provision of service information, including information about care at the end of life.
  • symptom assessment and management.
  • psychosocial support for the patient and/or carer.
  • coordination of community based services to assist in the support and care of the patient in their home.
  • assistance to health professionals, patients and families in advanced care planning.

Eligibility for services

A person is eligible for referral to specialist palliative care services if:

  • they have a progressive, life limiting illness
  • they or their decision maker, is aware of, understands and has agreed to a palliative care referral
  • the primary goals of patient care are to control symptoms, maximise function, maintain quality of life and provide comfort.

Palliative care services can be provided at any stage of disease including end-of-life care.

If, as the treating physician you are uncertain of the eligibility of the patient, contact the palliative care service to discuss a referral with a member of the specialist palliative care team.


Referrals to the palliative care team can be made by medical practitioners, other health professionals, the individual, their family members or carer.

Referrals for people in the community - that is, home or residential care - or people requiring an outpatient clinic appointment, can be made by faxing a completed Palliative Care Referral form (PDF) to the local palliative care service.

Information required

  • Ensure that there has been a discussion with the patient and or relevant carer regarding the referral before the referral occurs.
  • Clearly state the reason for the referral, for example:
    • Palliative care assessment
    • Provision of service information
    • End-of-life care
    • Discussion of goals and treatment options
    • Difficulty maintaining desired place of care.
  • Provide an alternative contact for the patient
  • Include diagnosis, important dates, copies of all reports, results and relevant letters
  • Include a current medication list.

New referrals will be processed in a timely manner during office hours.

For further information or enquiries, phone CAPCS on 8222 6825 during office hours.

Please note: Patients in an acute setting/hospital are referred using local inpatient procedures. Procedures available on the intranet. 

Urgent referrals

For urgent referrals or assistance, please phone Central Adelaide Palliative Care Services (CAPCS) directly on 8222 6825, during office hours.

For after-hours advice, contact the on call Palliative care medical officer through the RAH switchboard 7074 0000 or the TQEH switchboard 8222 6000, then ask for them to be paged.

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