Toronto Private Hospital has opened what it described as the first dedicated palliative care unit in a private hospital in the Hunter.
The unit offers 10 beds staffed by specially trained nurses and is led by palliative care physician Dr Susan Newton and general practitioner Dr Fiona Boyd.
Dr Newton said palliative care aimed to improve the quality of life of patients - and their families or caregivers - when faced with a life-limiting illness.
"I believe that people with life-limiting illness deserve meticulous attention to symptom management (to relieve suffering); open, honest and inclusive communication; easy access to expertise and assistance from a wide range of health professionals; and the knowledge and assurance that they will be cared for, according to their wishes," Dr Newton said.
Palliative care and palliative medicine aimed to prevent and relieve suffering by the early identification, assessment, and treatment of symptoms (for example pain, shortness of breath, nausea) as well as other physical, psychosocial and spiritual problems, Dr Newton said.
Dr Boyd has been admitting patients to Toronto Private Hospital for 20 years. She said people were often confused about what palliative care was.
"Palliative care is not limited to the last 12 months of a person's life: the need for palliative care may be episodic over an extended period, depending on the illness," Dr Boyd said.
"This contrasts with 'end-of-life care' which recognises that the person is likely to die in the next 12 months, or in the shorter term, within days to weeks."
Hospital CEO Jason Thomas said palliative care at Toronto Private Hospital was provided by a group of experienced health care professionals in "beautiful surroundings".
"Care of people with life-limiting disease is both a priority and a privilege for the dedicated staff," he said.
"It is also comforting for those patients who are earlier in their journey as they have access to a range of our physical rehabilitation programs as well as mental health services to provide a complete service.
"No other private facility in this region is able to do that," Mr Thomas said.
For more information about the palliative care service at Toronto Private Hospital visit torontoprivate.com.au