On this page:

What we do

Palliative care supports people living with a terminal illness where a cure is no longer possible. Palliative care is a "whole person approach” that aims to support patients and their families to improve quality of life.

You might receive palliative care alongside particular treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Palliative care is also provided in the earlier stages of illness, alongside other therapies that are aimed at prolonging life. It neither hastens nor postpones death but supports life and regards dying as a normal process.

Palliative care aims to improve quality of life by:

  • providing relief from pain and other physical symptoms
  • combining psychological and spiritual aspects of care
  • using a team approach to address the needs of the person who is ill and their whānau
  • offering a support system to help people live as actively as possible until death
  • offering a support system to help the whānau cope during a person’s illness and in bereavement.

How do I access palliative care services?

Contact your GP or practice nurse

You will need to have a lead palliative carer. This should be someone you identify, who you already know and is able to coordinate your palliative care. This is usually your GP or a nurse from the practice. If you live in a residential facility, this may be a nurse from the team.

Your lead palliative carer will have regular conversations with you and if you choose, your whānau, and will:

  • provide information for you and your whānau about your condition and what you can expect
  • help you access other supports and services
  • do an accurate and all-round assessment of your needs
  • coordinate care teams in and out of hours
  • provide basic levels of symptom control
  • give you psychological, social, spiritual and practical support
  • communicatie with you, your whānau and the professionals supporting you.

Palliative care can be provided in different places including in your home, in hospital, at a care home or a hospice.

It can be provided by GPs, specialists, social workers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, counsellors, dieticians, district nurses and chaplains…hospice is just one part of palliative care.

Your primary care team will also have access to specialist advice from experts in palliative care, such as consultants in palliative medicine or clinical nurse specialists.

It may be that as your needs change or become more complex, you may require additional support from these specialist services. These may be provided to you from a hospice or a hospital as inpatient or outpatient facilities.

More information about palliative care and palliative care services is available on the Health Navigator website.

What is a life limiting illness?

A life-limiting illness is one that cannot be cured and may at some time result in the person dying -  be that years, months, weeks or days away. 

Such conditions might include bronchitis/emphysema, heart failure, dementia, motor neurone disease, kidney or liver failure at a point where they get more troublesome despite therapy aimed at stabilising or improving them. 

Other conditions may include cancers that can’t be cured but might still be responsive to drugs or radiation treatment.

Occasionally palliative care is helpful where the treatment hope and aim is for cure/full recovery, and there is also significant uncertainty about whether this will happen. 

When is palliative care helpful?

Palliative care can be really helpful at all stages of living with a life-limiting illness.

It is often best introduced early on – sometimes even at the point it first becomes clear what is wrong.  

It can be helpful at any time, even when someone is having intensive treatments, for instance chemotherapy for cancer or renal dialysis for kidney failure.

In other words, palliative care could be there to provide support, help and comfort at those times when illness is causing major problems or distress both for you, and/or your care-givers.

Who provides palliative care and where?

Excellent basic palliative care is provided by all health care practitioners - from GPs, District Nurses, and Residential Care Facilities, through to hospital based clinical services.

In the community

Palliative care in the community, your home, and in an inpatient unit is provided by the Mary Potter Hospice.

In hospital

Specialist palliative care in Wellington Regional and Kenepuru Hospitals is provided through the Hospital Palliative Care Service.

The two specialist services work closely together so that where ever you are, you are supported.

In hospital, our team provides care alongside your primary care team when:

  • your illness is causing discomfort, for example bothersome pain or shortness of breath, or nausea and vomiting. We may be able to help ease these symptoms and improve your comfort.
  • your thoughts and feelings are distressing. Having someone to help you talk through and address these things can often make a major difference.
  • your illness may be having a big impact elsewhere in your life – maybe with your partner, children, whānau, work or financial affairs. Professional support and advice in these situations can often help you find solutions and resolve some of your concerns.
  • you may also be faced with decisions and choices that are confusing or difficult to make during your illness. The palliative care team may be able to help explain things to you, and help you find answers that you feel most comfortable with. 
  • on leaving hospital you may need ongoing support and care. The palliative care team is often able to link in with the right services for you.

What services are available if I'm at home or in a Residential Care facility?

Mary Potter Hospice is a community-based service, providing specialist palliative care services to the people of Wellington, Porirua and Kāpiti.

The service is free to all patients.

It provides coordinated support through a team of nurses, doctors, social workers, counsellors, spiritual care workers, and occupational therapists.

There are four teams: three community teams in Wellington, Porirua and Kāpiti; and an inpatient service in Newtown, Wellington.

The hospice teams work closely with Primary Health Organisations, District Nurses, and other community based services.

Care is available in people’s homes, residential facilities, a day unit, outpatient clinics, and as an inpatient at the hospice.

Our team

Our team includes specially trained nurses and specialist doctors. We work together with the specialist who is in charge of your care and his or her team. We do not take over your care, but instead we work alongside both you and your primary hospital team during your stay in hospital.

  • Dr Fiona Bailey: Palliative Medicine Consultant and Clinical Leader
  • Jonathan Adler: Palliative Medicine Consultant
  • Dr Emma McMenamin: Palliative Medicine Consultant
  • Gabrielle Driscoll: Nurse Practitioner Palliative Care
  • Janice Tijsen: Clinical Nurse Specialist Palliative Care
  • Justine O'Sullivan: Clinical Nurse Specialist Palliative Care
  • Jimmy Jansen: Clinical Nurse Specialist Palliative Care


Your primary care team may discuss with you the possibility of someone from a specialist palliative care service being involved in your care.

Hospital Referrals

If you say yes, we will normally be with you within one working day, sometimes more quickly if matters are urgent.
If you feel that you would like our input, but have not been referred, ask a member of the team looking after you.

If you still have questions about who we are or how we can help, you are welcome to contact us through our email or the hospital switchboard. Other staff in the hospital may also be able to answer your questions. There are also leaflets explaining all about us in more detail.

Hospice Referrals

A member from Mary Potter Hospice will contact you after receiving a referral from your primary healthcare team.

Learn more about Mary Potter Hospice

Last updated 21 September 2020.