End of life care

End of life care

People reaching the end of their life and their families can experience a tremendous sense of isolation and can feel shut out of social circles and distanced from their communities.

A lack of conversation is perhaps the most important reason why peoples’ wishes go ignored or unfulfilled; if we do not know how to communicate what we want, and those around us do not know how to listen, it is almost impossible to express a clear choice.

It has been said that what we fear most about dying is the associated loss of control. By empowering patients to express their wishes, that control can be restored.

The Government has published the Department of Health End of Life Care Strategy – promoting high quality care for all adults at the end of life. The aim of this is to provide people approaching the end of life with more choice about where they would like to live and die. It encompasses all adults with advanced, progressive illness and care given in all settings.

Every organisation involved in providing end of life care is expected to adopt an overall coordination process in line with the End of Life Strategy. This will give you the opportunity to discuss your personal needs and preferences with professionals who can support you; these will be recorded in a care plan so that every service which will be involved in supporting you will be aware of your priorities. Your preferences and choices will be taken into account and accommodated wherever possible. Coordinated care and support will be provided, ensuring that your needs are met, irrespective of who is delivering the service to you.

Not everyone will choose to engage in such a conversation and that is fine. However, talking and planning ahead means that your wishes are more likely to be known by others. This is important for those responsible for making decisions about your care if you lose capacity to make your own decisions because of serious illness.

Further information on End of Life care is available through your GP, health or social care worker, your library, hospital information centre, the NHS end of life team based at Blackpool Stadium on 01253 655230 and the Dying Matters website www.dyingmatters.org

Bereavement support
The death of someone very close, at any age, can be a lonely and bewildering experience. There are a number of services out there to help you through this difficult time.

Cruse Bereavement Care offers free information, advice and support to bereaved people. It provides a telephone helpline and face-to-face support: 0844 477 9400.

If you have lost your husband or wife, contact the National Association of Widows to find out about the support and friendship they can offer: 0845 838 2261.

The Linden Centre at Trinity Hospice provides support for their people who have been bereaved following a terminal illness, either recently or sometime ago. (Priority is given to Trinity Hospice patients and their families.) Tel: 01253 595552.

The Bereavement Advice Centre supports and advises people on what they need to do after a death. Tel: 0800 634 9494.

If you have lost a beloved pet the Animal Samaritans Pet Bereavement Service can offer you support. Call Chris Bishop on 0208 303 1859.