End of life care needs greater attention

End of life care needs greater attention

One in five of all deaths occur in a care home. In response to this, the NHS End of life care programme has produced a guide that will help care homes to care for residents’ physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs to achieve the best quality of life for patients and their families, even when this is likely to be short. The guide is in partnership with the National Council for Palliative Care.

The guide is aimed at care home managers and staff interested in improving care for residents in the final stages of life. It is the first of a number of planned publications aimed to support the improvement of end of life care. It provides advice on the services available to help support the choice of residents as they approach the end of life. It also contains signposts and other useful resources such as case studies; information on best practice such as the Liverpool Care Pathway for the Dying Patient, which was developed to take the best of hospice care, to other settings such as care homes and the Gold Standards Framework in care homes programme.

It acknowledges the difficulties of broaching the subject of death in helpful plain direct language, and lists the issues for staff to consider, including:

* How many of your residents die each year either in your care home or after transfer to acute care?

* Do all your residents have up-to-date care plans including care at the end of life?

* Can you identify the patients who are nearing the end of their lives?

* Do you talk with your residents about where they would like to live and die?

* How many GP practices provide medical care to your residents?

* What links do you have with social care and specialist palliative care?

Information in the short guide is basic but includes many sources of best practice. Issues affecting end of life care that may need tackling, according to the guide, include staff training, access to medical help and drugs, GP liaison, and the cultural and language differences of staff and residents.

Copyright Pavilion Publishing (Brighton) Ltd. Sep 2006

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