Palliative and end-of-life care
It is important to realise that everyone will die at some time – death is unavoidable. Being unavoidable, planning for death and discussing death with loved ones is a part of having a good death. It is not something that you as a carer should deny the cared-for person if they wish to talk about their wishes and fears. It is important that the cared-for person is given the opportunity to talk about their death but they should not be made to feel that they must. As either a paid carer or an unpaid carer there is only one opportunity to get end-of-life care right. You don’t get a second chance for any individual cared-for person.
While the course is of value to all carers, the course team acknowledges that palliative and end-of-life care might be informal or carried out by paid care workers. While many people prefer to die at home, where their relatives care for them in their final months, weeks and days, they are often assisted by paid care workers. Some paid care workers specialise in palliative and end-of-life care.
An important consideration that is emphasised in this course is that carers need to take care of themselves as well as the person they care for. As you read, think about what support would be available to you from family or friends, or what support you might offer to family and friends should they be providing palliative or end-of-life care. You might find Section 1, Good communication (particularly having difficult conversations), and Section 5, Looking after yourself, helpful also.
In this section you will study palliative and end-of-life care. You will find out how to maximise a person’s quality of life by employing the core principles that underpin good-quality end-of-life care. You look at how you can enhance the dying process to help the person have a good death.
Towards the end of the section you will reflect on a case study that brings together your learning and describes signs that someone is near to death. In the case study you follow Frank and Grace during Frank’s final weeks.
At the end of the section there is a short quiz to test what you have learned about palliative and end-of-life care. On successful completion of the quiz you will earn a digital badge.
This section is divided into five topics and each of these should take you around half an hour to study and complete. The topics are as follows:
- Palliative care introduces palliative care as a treatment that relieves but does not cure a disease or an illness. Neither should it bring about the death of the person or delay the death. Its focus is on the physical, psychological, social and spiritual well-being of the dying person, and those close to him or her.
- Maximising quality of life discusses how quality of life for a person receiving palliative care can be enhanced and personalised to the individual, while looking at how a special focus might be necessary if a child receives palliative care.
- End-of-life care is part of palliative care for people who are thought to be in the last year of life. These people can be helped to have a good death, where what is meant by a good death is dependent on what matters to the person who is dying.
- Common core principles describes a framework for how practitioners are guided to provide end-of-life care, while recognising that many practitioners who provide end-of-life care are not end-of-life care specialists.
- Approaching death discusses what constitutes a good death as decided by the person who is dying, and recognising signs of death.