Planning for
End of Life Care

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Planning for End of Life Care

Those receiving End of Life Care typically include those who have been diagnosed with an incurable condition such as terminal cancer, those in the later stages of dementia, or those affected by progressive neurological diseases such as motor neurone disease or multiple sclerosis.

It is an important part of the Palliative Care which may already have been taking place for some months. The purpose of End of Life Care is to allow people to live as comfortably as possible in the final weeks of their life.

Five priorities for End of Life Care

There are five important priorities for End of Life Care in the final weeks of someone’s life:

  1. You, and those who are closest to you, should be in involved in decisions about your treatment and care if this is what you want.
  2. An individual care plan covering symptom control, pain relief, spiritual support and food and drink, should be agreed with you and delivered with compassion at all times.
  3. The healthcare professionals involved in your care should talk honestly and sensitively to you and your family.
  4. The needs of your family and those who are important to you should be respected and met whenever possible in accordance with own your wishes.
  5. You should be regularly seen by a doctor, and if they believe you may die soon, they must explain this to you and the people closest to you in accordance with your wishes.

End of Life Care Plan

An End of Life Care Plan is a way of documenting your needs and wishes for the final weeks of your life and when you are dying. This can be included in an Advance Care Plan. The plan should be delivered by those caring for you with compassion, kindness and respect at all times. You should be involved in all important aspects of your care for as long as you are able to, and through a designated person thereafter. Your needs and wishes, and those of those closest to you, should be adhered to whenever possible.

What to Expect in the Final Months

As your loved one comes to the end of their life there are changes that you can expect. In their final three months, you may find that they:

  • Sleep more than usual, taking frequent naps during the day
  • Have a reduced appetite for both food and drink
  • Withdraw from family and friends and stop doing things that they used to enjoy or find comfort in
  • Talk less than usual

In the last two weeks of your loved one’s life they are likely to feel tired or drained all the time, so much so that they probably won’t leave their bed. Whatever illness they have, the following changes happen to most people. This can last hours or days. The changes include:

  • Different sleep-wake patterns
  • Very little appetite or thirst
  • Fewer and smaller bowel movements and less urine
  • More pain – which can be managed with effective pain relief
  • Changes in their blood pressure, breathing and heart rate
  • Changes in body temperature which may leave their skin cooler than usual
  • Congested breathing
  • Periods of confusion, including hallucinations
  • Slipping in and out of consciousness

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