Looking to become a Helper? Click here

A dependable support community you can trust

Inpatient vs Outpatient Palliative Care in Cancer

Palliative Care

Updated 06-01-2024

Inpatient vs Outpatient Palliative Care in Cancer

Palliative care stands as an integral component of comprehensive cancer care, providing relief to patients from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. The ultimate goal is to improve the quality of life for both the patient and their family. Palliative care comes in various forms, the main ones being inpatient and outpatient care. Both approaches offer pivotal support but differ in their delivery methods and settings.

Understanding Palliative Care

Before delving deeper into the nuances of inpatient and outpatient palliative care, it is essential to demystify what palliative care encompasses. This multi-disciplinary approach involves pain and symptom management, emotional support, spiritual care, and assistance with decision-making about treatment options. A team of health professionals work alongside the cancer care team to address the needs that go beyond the oncological treatment.

Inpatient Palliative Care

Inpatient palliative care is typically provided within a hospital or a dedicated palliative care unit. This setting is generally suited for patients with complex care needs that cannot be adequately managed at home or in an outpatient setting. Here, patients have access to a 24-hour medical care team responsive to their immediate needs.

Tailored Around-the-Clock Support

Due to the nature of the care environment, inpatient services offer a level of immediacy and intensity in symptom management that may not be achievable in an outpatient setting. Sudden changes in health status can be more effectively monitored and treated in a hospital-based environment, where a wide range of medical resources is at hand.

An Interdisciplinary Team Approach

The inpatient palliative care team usually comprises doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, and other specialists who are skilled in delivering end-of-life care. They work in unison to create a comprehensive care plan that addresses the physical, emotional, and social needs of the patient.

Impact on Family Members

Family members benefit from the support that comes with inpatient palliative care as it can reduce the caregiving burden. With healthcare professionals attending to the patient's needs, families can focus more on spending quality time with their loved one.

Outpatient Palliative Care

Outpatient palliative care is sometimes referred to as community-based palliative care, delivered at a patient's home, in an outpatient clinic, or via telehealth services. This model is designed for patients who are still relatively independent or have adequate support systems in place.

Flexible and Personalised Care

This form of palliative care is typically less intensive but more personalised, focusing on maintaining the patient's quality of life in familiar surroundings. Regular assessments and interventions are scheduled based on the patient’s specific needs and the family's ability to care for them.

Coordination with Primary Care

Outpatient palliative care often involves close coordination with the patient's primary cancer treatment team. This continuity ensures that palliative care strategies complement ongoing treatments and are adaptable as the patient’s condition evolves.

Benefits of Outpatient Care

The flexibility of receiving care in the comfort of one's home can significantly reduce stress and improve the feeling of independence for patients. However, this requires a strong home support structure and the ability to attend regular clinic visits or receive health professionals at home.

Comparing Outpatient and Inpatient Palliative Care Outcomes

While both inpatient and outpatient palliative care services strive to provide the best possible quality of life, the choice between them depends on the individual circumstances of the patient and their cancer progression. Typically, a seamless transition between outpatient and inpatient care might be necessary as a patient's needs intensify.

Factors Influencing Care Decisions

  • The severity of symptoms and immediate medical needs.
  • The stage of the cancer and overall prognosis.
  • The patient’s personal preferences for care setting.
  • The availability of family support and community resources.
  • Psychological and social considerations.


Choosing between inpatient and outpatient palliative care in the journey of cancer treatment comes down to a myriad of factors, each deeply personal and often complex. The decision should involve open discussions with healthcare providers, considering the full spectrum of a patient's needs. In either setting, the core principle of palliative care remains to provide compassionate, patient-centred care that affirms life and regards dying as a normal process, aiming to neither hasten nor postpone death.

About the Author

Olivia is a seasoned professional with an extensive career spanning the Aged Care sector, bringing decades of experience to her role. Her comprehensive understanding of Aged Care services and practices is a testament to her dedication. Olivia’s gratitude extends to those who have generously shared their knowledge and insights with her over the years, contributing to her wealth of expertise.
Olivia’s articles reflect her commitment to practical and informative content. They skillfully combine her industry know-how with real-world insights, providing valuable resources for navigating the complexities of the Aged Care sector. Olivia stands as a reliable advocate for delivering compassionate and effective care to elderly individuals, offering her support not only to fellow caregivers and professionals but also to those seeking to gain a deeper understanding of the sector.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the 3 Forms of Palliative Care?

Palliative care is a specialised area of health care that focuses on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient ... read more

What Are the Benefits of in Home Palliative Care?

In the journey towards the end of life, in-home palliative care stands as a beacon of comfort, offering a personalised and compassionate approach for individuals facing life-limiting illnesses. The... read more

What Are the Examples of Palliative Care at Home?

Palliative care at home is a compassionate form of healthcare that focuses on providing relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness. It is designed to improve the quality of lif... read more

What Do Nurses Do in Palliative Care at Home?

Palliative care at home plays a crucial role in maintaining the dignity, comfort, and quality of life for individuals with serious, chronic, or life-limiting illnesses. Nurses are the cornerstone o... read more

What Is the Difference Between Hospice and Palliative Care?

Understanding the distinction between hospice and palliative care is crucial for patients and their loved ones seeking appropriate support during serious illnesses. Although both provide comfort, t... read more

When Should Someone Be Offered Palliative Care?

Palliative care is a specialised form of medical care for individuals with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing relief from symptoms, pain, and the stress of a serious illness—whatever the ... read more

Why Choose Kinder Caring for Your Home Care Needs?

Contact us today to discover how our personalised care plans can make a significant difference in your life, upholding our commitment to care and compassion.

A dependable support community you can trust

Tradition of Trust & Excellence

At Kinder Caring, we stand as guardians of a 25-year heritage, offering top-notch home care services. Our deep understanding and vast experience make us an ideal choice for those seeking excellence in community care.

A dependable support community you can trust

Tailored Care for Your Lifestyle

We specialise in creating personalised care plans, understanding each client’s unique needs. Our Care Managers ensure every care aspect is bespoke, valuing each individual’s distinct preferences and requirements.

A dependable support community you can trust

Empowering Your Choice

Kinder Caring respects your decision-making freedom. Choose between our in-house experts or skilled independent contractors for care that perfectly fits your lifestyle, providing genuine flexibility.

A dependable support community you can trust

Decades of Service

Over 25 years, Kinder Caring has dedicated over 2.5 million hours to supporting more than 7,400 individuals, reflecting our commitment to impactful, high-quality care.

A dependable support community you can trust

A Community of Professionals

Our team, chosen for skill and compassion, forms the backbone of Kinder Caring. We focus on building a strong, caring team committed to your comfort and well-being.

A dependable support community you can trust

Accreditation & Improvement

Kinder Caring’s adherence to the ACIS and investment in ongoing staff development reflect our commitment to providing care that meets the highest quality and contemporary standards.

A dependable support community you can trust

Building Trusted Relationships

We’re more than care providers; we’re partners in your health journey. With a widespread network and collaborations with funding organisations, we offer accessible, superior care across NSW, QLD & VIC.

A dependable support community you can trust

Join the Kinder Caring Family

Choosing Kinder Caring means joining a family dedicated to your independence and well-being. Be part of our 25-year journey, continuing our legacy of impactful, caring service.

Our happy clients

Bridging the gap between you and an enhanced quality of life, Kinder Caring is committed to nurturing your independence, and delivering compassionate care in the comfort of your home.

A dependable support community you can trust

We’re immensely grateful for Kinder Caring’s assistance over the past months. A special shoutout to Nicole Coupland, who has been an exceptional carer for Mum. Thank you for your unwavering support.

- Carolina,
Willoughby, NSW
A dependable support community you can trust

We are so pleased with the care Dad has been receiving from Kinder Caring, especially from Aster. She has shown professionalism and dedication. We appreciate the company’s flexibility in accommodating our requests, like Aster wearing a mask and gloves. The temporary rail adjustments and the proactive approach in ensuring the best care for Dad is commendable. Thank you, Kinder Caring.

- Karin,
Kealba, VIC
A dependable support community you can trust

Kinder Caring has been exceptional in their service. They provided a wonderful carer who is exceptional at what she does. Not only did they promptly get my quote approved, but they also took care of my window cleaning needs and organized transportation for my medical appointments. I couldn’t be happier!

- Maria,
Melton, VIC
A dependable support community you can trust

There was so much more to caring for Dad than we ever thought. Kinder Caring provided everything we needed to support us; they became part of our family… they made a difficult time so much easier for us.

Lindfield NSW
A dependable support community you can trust

A huge thank you to all the nurses at Kinder Caring. Having your expertise, caring attitude and ongoing advice meant we did not have to place Dad into a nursing home or send him to hospital and therefore his last days spent with Mum and the family were very special for us all.

Mt Waverley Vic

Experience Exceptional Home Care with Kinder Caring!

Unlock 25 Years of Trusted Expertise: 2,500,000+ Hours of Dedicated Care delivered to 7,400+ people from 560,000+ Personalised Services

Your Journey to Peace of Mind Starts Here. Contact Us Today!

1300 796 675