Specialist Palliative Care in the Community

About palliative care 

Palliative care helps people with a life-limiting illness live their life as fully and comfortably as possible. Palliative care identifies and treats symptoms which may be physical, emotional, spiritual or social. It is a familycentred model of care, meaning that whānau and friends can also receive practical and emotional support. Nurse Maude provides a range of specialist hospice and palliative care services for those living in Canterbury. All services are free to patients and their whānau with costs partially met by the government and the remainder through the generosity of the community. 

Palliative care in the community 

Palliative care provided by district nurses, GPs and other health professionals is known as primary palliative care. Often this is enough to help patients manage and stay in their own home for as long as possible without the involvement of specialist palliative care. Nurse Maude’s specialist palliative care team is skilled in monitoring and supporting patients at home who may have more complex or challenging pain or other symptoms causing concern. They work alongside general practitioners, district nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals to provide the best possible care.


Referrals can be made by any health professional. If the referral meets the criteria for specialist palliative care, it will be accepted. A member of the team arranges to meet the patient either at a clinic or at their home, to complete an assessment and plan their care. Further visits are arranged if required, but it is usually the district nurses who provide ongoing palliative support at home. 


Palliative care is very much a team approach – some team members can help with a specific issue for a short period of time while others may become involved for longer periods. Care is tailored to an individual’s need, and may be offered by some, or all, of the following team members: 

Nurse Specialists: some patients will have a palliative care nurse specialist who assists with symptom management and advice and liaises with any other services involved. They can also support residents in residential care. 

Specialist Doctors: support community nurses and are available to GPs for advice and information. Doctors may visit at home but always keep the patient’s own GP informed. 

Whānau Support Team: offer information, advocacy and personal, practical and spiritual support to patients and their whānau. The team consists of counsellors, spiritual care worker, Māori Liaison and Kaiāwhina. 

Social Workers: support psychosocial wellbeing of patients and whānau. They can help with many of the practical issues facing patients and their whānau and are able to provide information about community resources which may assist patients and whānau. 

Needs Assessor: visits to discuss what support is available to stay at home. If staying safely at home isn’t possible, they work with the patient and their whānau to provide information and options for longer term residential care. 

Dietitian: visits to offer suggestions on eating, and food and fluid choices to help manage symptoms such as nausea, constipation and taste changes. 

Occupational Therapist: focuses on a patient’s ability to undertake self-care, leisure or work related activities. To achieve this, they may suggest modifying activities or provide equipment that maximises independence and safety. 

Physiotherapist: helps maintain independence and mobility around the home which can include providing exercises, falls prevention education and equipment if required. Can also assist with management of stress, pain and anxiety. If you or your whānau have any concerns, please talk to a member of the Nurse Maude team. We appreciate that this situation may be completely unfamiliar for you. Please allow us to assist you with your concerns no matter how trivial they may seem. We value your perspective and want to work in partnership with you to provide the best possible care