Course Overview


This Course uses a holistic framework to explore the reasons why appropriate nutrition and hydration in palliative care is important. The broad nutritional needs of the person approaching end of life are addressed, and practical suggestions for how health professionals can accurately assess and manage these needs are provided.

Learning Outcomes

  • State the major tenet of palliative care and how this relates to nutrition and hydration
  • Describe the assessment of a person for nutrition and hydration requirements, clearly differentiating between malnutrition and dehydration, and hunger and thirst
  • Describe practical ways to ensure appropriate and timely nutrition and hydration are administered to a person at the end of life

Topics include:

  • The role of nutrition in palliative care
  • Hydration and nutritional assessment
  • Ethical dilemmas in palliative care
  • Signs and symptoms of imminent death

Target audience

All healthcare professionals, especially those working in the following settings:

  • Palliative care
  • Aged care
  • Community care; and
  • Acute care.


Reiterate the nutritional and hydration needs of people receiving palliative care, with awareness that the major tenet of palliative care is the comfort of the individual. Further, this VLA will clarify the role of the healthcare professional in relation to the provision of nutrition and hydration as the person nears death.


A person requiring palliative care often presents with fragility and general weakness. During assessment, they may describe difficulties with their appetite, diet, and fluid intake. Readily observable changes in their appearance might also be evident. In order to address the tenet of comfort for the individual, and to subsequently meet the individual’s daily comfort needs, it is critical that healthcare professionals accurately assess and manage these changes. Decisions in relation to the nutritional and hydration needs of a person can then be made together with the person approaching end of life, their caregiver and other members of the interdisciplinary healthcare team.

Health professionals in Australia that are registered with AHPRA are required to obtain continuing professional development (CPD) hours/points each year that relates to their context of practice, in order to comply with mandatory regulatory requirements.