Safety and Quality > Our Work > End-of-Life Care

End of life care bannerMany Australians spend their last year of life going in and out of hospital, and more than half of those who die each year do so in acute care settings. The health care that people receive in the last years, months and weeks of their lives can minimise the distress and grief associated with death and dying for both the individual, and their family, friends and carers.

This program of work has stemmed from the work of the recognising and responding to clinical deterioration program. It is clear that a significant proportion of patients who deteriorate in hospital are deteriorating because they are at the end of their lives, and the care that they receive is not always appropriate. Systems and structures for delivering safe and high quality end-of-life care should work in synergy with those for recognising and responding to clinical deterioration.

National Consensus Statement: Essential elements for safe and high-quality end-of-life care

The National Consensus Statement: Essential elements for safe and high-quality end-of-life care (the Consensus Statement) was endorsed by Australian Health Ministers in May 2015.

Clinicians, health service executives and managers, policy-makers, educators and training providers can use the principles and ten essential elements of the Consensus Statement as a guide to improving the safety and quality of end-of-life care.

The consensus statement was developed in partnership with health consumers and carers, experts in the field, representatives from public and private hospitals and health services, professional colleges, state and territory health departments, and other government health agencies. Please contact the Commission if you would like more details on the consultation process.

Preliminary scoping work undertaken prior to developing the consensus statement is summarised in Safety and Quality of End-of-Life Care in Acute Hospitals: A Background Paper. This paper presents a précis of the policy and clinical framework for end-of-life care within the Australian acute healthcare setting as interpreted by consumers, clinicians and policy makers.

Education Modules

Flinders University has launched three end-of-life education modules to assist acute care clinicians in meeting the challenges of providing end-of-life care. The modules are based on the Commission’s National Consensus Statement: Essential elements for safe and high-quality end-of-life care and are funded by the Australian Government as a National Palliative Care Project.

The modules focus on developing clinical knowledge and skills in communication and decision-making, and are aimed at doctors, nurses and allied health professionals.

Access the end-of-life essentials modules.

For More Information

For more information on the Commission’s end-of-life care projects or to request hard copies of the Consensus Statement contact us on 02 9126 3600 or

Tools and resources for health services

The Commission is developing additional tools and resources to support safe and high-quality end-of-life care in acute healthcare settings.

Information for patients, families and carers

How should care be given at the end of life? Information for patients and their families and carers

End-of-life care projects across Australia

The Commonwealth, state and territory governments across Australia are increasing their focus on improving the safety and quality of end-of-life care.