End of Life Care

What is end of life care?

‘How we care for the dying is an indicator of how we care for all sick and vulnerable people. It is a measure of society as a whole and it is a litmus test for health and social care services.’

Although the subject of dying is often painful to contemplate and as a society we do not discuss death and dying openly, the way care professionals approach the process is incredibly important for the individual, their family and carers. The Department of Health has a Strategy for every organisation involved in providing end of life care. Each is expected to adopt an overall co-ordination process, such as the Gold Standards Framework, whilst developing the best possible outcome for clients.

Those being cared for should have the opportunity to discuss their personal needs and preferences
with professionals who will be supporting them. These are recorded in an Advance Care Plan
so that every supporting service is aware of the client’s wishes.

All health and social care staff must be trained in communication regarding end of life care and should be trained accordingly in assessing the needs of clients and carers.

Programmes available:

The Gold Standards Framework (GSF)

This can be used in various settings, for example hospitals, primary care and care homes, to improve the co-ordination and communication between different organisations involved in providing care for someone near the end of their life.

‘Preferred Priorities for Care’ (PPC)

This document is an example of an Advance Statement and is designed to help people prepare for the future and gives them an opportunity to think about, talk about and write down their
preferences and priorities for care at the end of life.

End of life care is support for people who are approaching death and includes palliative care. It helps people to be as comfortable as possible and to die with dignity. It also includes support for their family or carers. Despite general reluctance to broach this sensitive area, it is worthwhile asking potential care providers their approach to end of life care and whether they are following national strategies for implementing best practice within their home.