End of Life Care

The term "end of life" can mean different things to different people; the focus is on preparation for the last few months, weeks, days and hours of life.

For a person, talking about death with the people closest to them is not easy, however it means that they will know what the person’s wishes are when the time comes, and helps them to look after the person in the way that the person would want.

It is well understood that not knowing exactly when to expect death can be one of the most difficult aspects of dying for individuals, their families and carers.

When a person is in the later stages of illness, it can be difficult to diagnose precisely when and how death will occur. A person’s condition can unexpectedly change for the better or worse at any time around this period. Often regular reviewing and noticing how things are changing over time is the only dependable or useful tool for assessment, with a focus on adequate symptom control and optimising quality of life for that person.

It is important to include the person who is dying and those close to them in discussion and decision-making as much as possible. More information is available at www.ec4h.org.uk.

Health and care professionals should be sensitive to different cultural perspectives on illness, death and dying and on how end of life decisions are to be made, and by whom. It is important that they do not make any assumptions about the information needs of a person based on their cultural background; these needs should be clarified with the person directly.