Primary palliative care is provided by all individuals and organisations who deliver palliative care as a component of their service, and who are not part of a specialist palliative care team.
Primary palliative care is provided for those affected by a life-limiting or life-threatening condition as an integral part of standard clinical practice by any healthcare professional.
In the context of end of life care, a primary palliative care provider is the principal medical, nursing or allied health professional who undertakes an ongoing role in the care of people with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition. A primary palliative care provider may have a broad health focus or be specialised in a particular field of medicine.
It is provided in the community by general practice teams, allied health teams, district nurses, and residential care staff, etc. It is provided in hospitals by general ward staff, as well as disease specific teams – for instance oncology, respiratory, renal and cardiac teams.
Primary palliative care providers assess and refer people to specialist palliative care services when the needs of the person exceed the capability of the service.
Quality care at the end of life is realised when strong networks exist between specialist palliative care providers, primary palliative care providers, support care providers and the community – working together to meet the needs of the person and family.
Adapted from Ministry of Health. 2015. New Zealand Palliative Care Glossary. Wellington: Ministry of Health.