End of life care

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End of life care is support for people who are approaching death. It helps them to live as well as possible until they die, and to die with dignity. It also includes support for their family or carers. End of life care includes palliative care. End of life care begins when you need it, and will continue for as long as you need it.

The importance of end of life care

Although everybody has their own idea of what a ‘good death’ is, for most people it would involve being without pain, in a familiar place with close family or friends and being treated with respect. Seventy five per cent of people say they would prefer to die at home. Therefore it is imperative that you and family are clear on your wishes.

An elderly mother is dying in hospital, unable to clearly communicate; the family, in their grief, must make an emotional decision. Do they ask for a feeding tube? Do they want a ventilator to help her breath, or morphine to control the pain, even if it hastens her death?

Too few people just do not have this conversation because of the taboo around death and dying. In Poole we have high numbers and proportions of older people, and our fastest growing age group is those aged 85 years and above. Planning and understanding options for a good death is vital for the individual’s peace of mind and for reassurance for family members.

What you can do now: steps to a good death

Educate yourself on medical interventions. Understand the implications/consequences of interventions.

Reflect on what you would want your death to be like. Who you would want present? Would you want music? Are you most worried about pain control?

Write it down. Specifying medical interventions you’d like taken; record what you value in life: independence, being pain free, time with family.

Communicate your wishes. Designate a substitute decision maker, a family member or good friend, ensure they know about any living will or care directive. Inform other family members to reduce potential conflict.

Review your plans regularly.

For detailed information on what is available across Poole, Bournemouth and Dorset, read more about end of life care on dorsetforyou.gov.uk.

Page last updated: 26 August 2021
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