What is it?
End-stage respiratory disease is when a lung disease reaches a stage where the person with the disease is likely to die within a year.
Treatment is no longer able to make the person better and instead aims to relieve symptoms. It helps the person with the disease to do more and live as best as they can.
What will my GP do now?
Your GP will work with you to develop a treatment plan to maintain quality of live. They may adjust and prescribe medications to help your lungs, or help you with breathlessness.
Your care may be provided by a team of health professionals from different disciplines. Each member of the care team can work with you to help you:
- Manage your symptoms
- Navigate the decisions you encounter with your illness
- Provide family support
Your GP may also help arrange other treatments such as:
- A shortness of breath action plan
- Pulmonary rehabilitation (a program of health education, breathing techniques and exercise)
- A diet plan
- Mental health support, such as counselling
- Therapy to help with energy conservation
- Supplemental oxygen if appropriate
- A home review by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT)
Your symptoms may be complex or difficult to manage. If so, your GP may refer you to a palliative care clinic. They may discuss the PEACH Program with you, if you want to stay in your home.
Your GP can help you with a range of other issues, like:
- Talking with your family about your end of life wishes
- Planning for current and future care
- Appointing a power of attorney
This is to make sure your rights and wishes are respected and documented.
What will my GP do in the future?
Your GP may continue to monitor your condition regularly. They may adjust your medication, or discuss changes to your treatment plan.
You can contact your GP, at any time, if you or a family member have questions about your care. Your GP can refer you to specialist services if you would like more support.
What can I do?
Talking about dying isn’t easy but it is important to do so before you get too ill. Discuss your end of life wishes with your family and friends, and your GP. Prepare important documents, such as your advance care plan, will and power of attorney. Keep your family members informed of your wishes, and make sure they understand what you want.
If you would like extra support to help you cope, consider asking your GP for a referral for a mental health support service or counsellor.