What is end of life care?
End of life care is support for people who are in the last months or years of their life. It aims to help people to live as well as possible until they die, and to die with dignity.
It involves healthcare professionals taking into account patients’ wishes and preferences and working with them to plan their care. It also includes support for patients’ families, carers or other people who are important to them.
When does end of life care begin?
End of life care should begin when patients need it and may last a few days, or for months or years.
People in lots of different situations can benefit from end of life care. Some of them may be expected to die within the next few hours or days. Others receive end of life care over many months.
People are generally considered to be approaching the end of life when they are likely to die within the next 12 months, although this isn’t always possible to predict. This includes people whose death is imminent, as well as people who:
- have an advanced incurable illness such as cancer, heart failure, advanced lung disease, dementia or motor neurone disease
- are generally frail and have co-existing conditions that mean they are expected to die within 12 months
- are at risk of dying from a sudden crisis in an existing condition
- have a life-threatening acute condition caused by a sudden catastrophic event, such as an accident or stroke
Who provides end of life care?
Different health and social care professionals may be involved in end of life care, depending on the patient’s needs. For example, hospital doctors and nurses, GPs, community nurses, hospice staff and counsellors may all be involved, as well as social care staff, chaplains (of all faiths or none), physiotherapists, occupational therapists or complementary therapists.
What is palliative care?
End of life care includes palliative care. If a patient has an illness that can’t be cured, palliative care helps patients to be as comfortable as possible, by managing pain and other distressing symptoms. It also involves psychological, social and spiritual support for patients and for their family or carers.
Palliative care isn’t just for the end of life. Patients may receive palliative care earlier in their illness while they are still receiving other therapies to treat their condition.
Who provides palliative care?
Many healthcare professionals provide palliative care as part of their jobs, such as GPs or community nurses.
Some people need additional specialist palliative care. This may be provided by consultants trained in palliative medicine, specialist palliative care nurses or others, for example, specialist occupational therapists, physiotherapists or social workers.
Palliative care teams are made up of different healthcare professionals and can co-ordinate the care of people with an incurable illness. As specialists, they also advise other professionals on palliative care.
Consultant in Palliative Medicine: Dr Viv Barros D’sa
Consultant in Palliative Medicine: Dr Kath Lambert
Specialist Palliative Care Doctor: Dr Cath Siller
Macmillan Clinical Nurse Specialist (Team Leader): Charlotte Rock
Macmillan Clinical Nurse Specialist: Kelly Barnes, Lesley Burnett, Sarah Davie, Tracey Goldsbrough, Emma Harvey, Clare Hudson and Mel Scott.
Administrator: Carol Shulver
Specialist Palliative Care in Harrogate and Rural District
This is provided by the Palliative Care Team (PCT), a team of doctors, nurses and administrative staff based at Harrogate District Hospital.
We have specialist knowledge in palliative care and visit patients in wards and outpatient departments at Harrogate District Hospital, in nursing/residential homes and in patients’ homes in Harrogate and the surrounding district.
We work closely with GPs, consultants and multi-professional teams who have overall responsibility for patient care. We aim to complement the care these teams are already providing to manage patients’ symptoms and to enhance quality of life.
We also work closely with Saint Michael’s Hospice in Harrogate.
The Team can be contacted Monday to Friday during office hours (8.30am-5pm). However they are not always available to take calls, so please leave a message with our administrator or on our confidential answerphone and we shall return your call as soon as possible.
We accept referrals from patients, carers, GPs and via medical, nursing and therapy staff working in any care setting.
Electronic Palliative Care Co-ordination System (EPaCCs)
Identifying patients who may be in the last year of life is an important step in providing good quality care. Locally, this is done through a system called the Electronic Palliative Care Co-ordination System (EPaCCs).
Dying Matters Week
Dying Matters Week takes place annually in May.
This insightful short clip, features Noreen Hawkshaw, Lead Nurse for Cancer and End of Life Care at the Trust, and introduces a series of other short videos relevant to the topic.