Essential Component 7
There is access to specialist palliative care
when needs are complex

Specialist palliative care services provide care for patients with complex or complicated needs

Why is this an Essential Component?

Evidence for inclusion

Providing strategic links between specialist palliative care services and other care providers across all settings ensures that all people can access the level of care appropriate to their needs.

Specialist palliative care services support and complement the care provided across all settings, and are an essential component of a high quality and safe system of care for people who are approaching and reaching the end of their life. These specialist palliative care services provide care for patients with complex or unstable symptoms or meet other high-level needs associated with a life-limiting illness (Palliative Care Australia, 2005)[1]. Ensuring that all people in NSW have access to this level of care through timely, coordinated and formal relationships and integrated processes is an essential component of any model for service provision.

Intended beneficial outcomes

  • All people in NSW have access to services and health professionals that have the necessary skills and expertise to meet their needs.
  • Care providers across all settings are connected to specialist palliative care services for consult arrangements, the provision of clinical advice and professional development support.
  • Care providers across all settings know when and how to access specialist palliative care services.
Specialist palliative care services provide care for patients with complex or complicated needs

What tools/resources could support the implementation of this component?

The Agency for Clinical Innovation commissioned CareSearch (Palliative and Supportive Services, Flinders University) to identify local, national and international tools or resources that can potentially be used to implement each of the ten (10) Essential Components of Care within the Blueprint.

To be included, tools and resources were required to be in English, be applicable to the Australian context and be supported by evidence (such as published validation studies, clinical guidelines representing expert consensus, or advice from expert clinicians who were consulted).

The set of tools and resources provided is not intended to be exhaustive, nor is any one tool specifically recommended.

About the review process

Core palliative care tools

Sheffield Profile for Assessment and Referral to care (SPARC)

A multi-dimensional screening questionnaire providing a profile of needs to identify patients who could benefit from additional supportive or palliative care. SPARC is intended to improve patient management, either by the current professional carers or by referral to specialist supportive and palliative care services.

Registration or payment Copyright conditions necessitate registration with the Academic Unit of Supportive Care, University of Sheffield No payment is required other than in relation to commercial use

Physical / functional assessment - palliative care

Needs Assessment Tool: Progressive Disease (NAT-PD)

Clinical assessment tool aiming to assist in matching the types and levels of need experienced by people with progressive chronic diseases (e.g. cancer, heart failure, COPD) and their caregivers with the most appropriate people or services to address those needs.


  1. Palliative Care Australia. Standards for Providing Quality Palliative Care for all Australians. Canberra: PCA; 2005.

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