Introducing Palliative Care Case Conferences

A palliative care case conference provides an opportunity to coordinate and plan care for a person who may be in the last months of life.

Changing care needs, symptom concerns, family issues and the need for coordination among providers can also signal the need for a case conference.

Indicators for a Palliative Care Case Conference

A palliative case conference is recommended for older people who the healthcare team estimates have a prognosis of six months or less to live.
One of the first indicators that can provide guidance on when to consider a palliative care case conference is the simple screening question called the 'The Surprise Question':

‘Would I be surprised if the person dies within the next six months?'

If you wouldn't be surprised if the person died in the next few months, consider a case conference.

If the answer to this question isn’t clear, then other things that may prompt consideration of a case conference include:
  • Sudden decline or deterioration in the older person’s health.
  • The older person wishes to clarify how their care needs will be met if they get sicker.
  • The older person and/or their substitute decision maker express a wish to seek comfort care rather than curative disease management.

The Supportive and Palliative Care Indicators Tool (SPICT) (298kb pdf) can be used to help identify people whose health is deteriorating.

What a Case Conference is and how it can help

GPs and Case Conferences

Any triggers that have highlighted the need for a case conference should be carefully addressed during the case conference.

Page updated 04 December 2023

palliAGED is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care.