End of life care (Adults)

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Planning for the future

End of life care refers to health care of those with a terminal condition which has become advanced, progressive and incurable. People often want to spend their last days at home and this is usually possible with the right planning and support.

More people are starting to make 'end of life plans' to make it easier for others to support, and carry out their wishes, when the time comes.

Advice for families and friends

Useful advice

When someone is dying:

  • If you know that someone is going to die, tell everyone so it doesn’t come as a shock
  • Talk about death openly and honestly
  • Support each other. Acknowledge people’s feelings and their different needs
  • Don’t forget to look after yourself. Self-care is important
  • If you can, find out about the persons wishes and funeral arrangements
  • If you will not be able to be with the person whilst they are ill or dying connect with them via phone or video call if you can

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Clinical Group has produced some information identifying the main services, including national organisations in the area, that offer support to people that have lost someone.  You can view the guide here.

Your rights

Know your rights

You have the right to express your wishes about where you would like to receive care and where you want to die.

You can find more information on your rights to make decisions on the Compassion in Dying website

Talking to friends and family about end of life care

Talk to your loved ones

It goes against all of our instincts to plan for our death. Death can feel taboo, or scary. People have different attitudes towards death depending on their life experiences and culture. But talking about what you want today, makes it more likely that your wishes will be carried out in the future. It will also help your family to cope.

Talking about your end of life wishes

Your end of life wishes

  • Choose the right time, when the person you want to talk to is not rushed or stressed
  • Be totally open about how you feel from the start
  • You may need to reassure the other person that you are not ill, or withholding anything from them
  • Listen to what they are saying too
Talking to others about their end of life wishes

Talking to others

  • Look for a sign that the other person is open to talking about the future. They might mention retirement, or someone they know dying.
  • You could start with a question: "have you ever wondered what would happen..."
  • Independent Age has more advice on having difficult conversations with a relative

Sometimes we worry about hurting others by having difficult conversations. But people are more often hurt by the conversations that didn't happen. 

Dying Matters has created a to do list around having conversations on end of life care.

End of life care plans

Care plans

These have become more common, as more people aim to take control and have a 'good death'. 

This includes thinking about:

  • whether you want to be resuscitated
  • living wills and lasting power of attorney
  • decisions on treatments and interventions
  • funeral and burial plans

Find more information on end of life care plans on the Compassion in Dying website , and end of life planning on the Age UK website.

ReSPECT for patients and carers

What is ReSPECT?

ReSPECT stands for Recommended Summary Plan for Emergency Care and Treatment.

The ReSPECT process creates a personalised recommendation for your clinical care in emergency situations where you are not able to make decisions or express your wishes.

This plan can be for anyone, but will have increasing relevance for people who have complex health needs, people who are likely to be nearing the end of their lives, and people who are at risk of sudden deterioration or cardiac arrest.

Some people will want to record their care and treatment preferences for other reasons. You can find out more on the Resuscitation Council UK website.

Money Matters

Power of Attorney

You can find lots of information about Power of Attorney and making a will on our Money Matters page.

Bereavement Support in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

A guide on how to support 

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group have produced a guide with support available in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

You can view the guide here.

Care for the Family.org.uk have produced a guide on supporting friends and family with bereavement – ‘Bereavement: How other people can help’.

Palliative Care Hub

Palliative Care Hub

A free out of hours phone service available to patients, relatives, friends and all healthcare professionals. Providing specialist advice and support to those with life limiting illnesses.

The service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Dial 111 and select option 3.

How the Palliative Care Hub can help

This 24 hour service is for anyone that needs specialist palliative care advice or support. It is available to patients, family/friends, carers, GP’s and other heath care professionals (including care and nursing homes when the patient has been identified as palliative). 

We will be able to give advice and support where able, signpost to appropriate services, transfer you to another healthcare professional that can better help you or complete necessary referrals to other services.

Calling this advice line will put you in direct contact with one of our dedicated Clinical Nurse Specialists, who will aim to support you and ensure you feel safe and confident in the care you are receiving.

You find find more information on the Arthur Rank Hospice Charity website


Related Advice

  1. Dementia and end of life planning
  2. Cancer: end of life care

Related Pages

  1. Health (Adults)
  2. Wellbeing (Adults)
  3. Money Matters (Adults)
  4. Mental capacity and planning for the future (Adults)

External Links

  1. Compassion in dying
  2. Independent Age - Difficult conversations
  3. Age UK - end of life planning
  4. Soul Midwives
  5. Arthur Rank Hospice Charity
  6. Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice

Related Services

  1. The Good Grief Trust
  2. Arthur Rank Hospice Charity
  3. Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall


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