The End of Life Care Strategy

‘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

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 client, their family and carers. The Department of Health has published a strategy for every organisation involved in providing end of life care. Each will be expected to adopt an overall coordination process, such as the Gold Standards Framework, whilst developing the best possible outcome for clients.

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

All health and social care staff must be trained in communication regarding end of life care and will be trained accordingly in assessing the needs of clients and carers. Programmes available include:

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.

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.

1 ‘End of Life Care Strategy – promoting high quality care for all adults at the end of life’ April 2008. Department of Health.

Useful websites – End of Life Care Compassionate Communities
Website aims to:

• help people develop the skills to address issues raised by end of life and other losses; and
• be a helpful, empathetic ear.

Dying Matters
Set up by the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC), the coalition aims to promote awareness of dying, death and bereavement. Their website has a comprehensive support section.

NHS Local
NHS Local has a section on end of life, including contact details for helpful organisations, suggestions of issues you may need to think about at end of life and videos people have sent in listing 5 things they want to do before they die

Marie Curie Cancer Care
Provides free nursing care to cancer patients and those with other terminal illnesses in their own homes.

Established in 1995, the first online information and self-help resource for, and by, widows and widowers.