End of life care

What to expect from end of life care

People who are approaching the end of their life are entitled to high-quality care, wherever they're being cared for.

Good end of life care is tailored to the person who needs it. You and the people close to you should be at the centre of decisions about your care.

It helps if your wishes are written down as a personalised care plan and, if you agree, that this can be shared with the people involved in your care now and in the future. It's important that this care plan is reviewed regularly so that it stays up to date as your situation and wishes change.

The staff caring for you should show respect for you and behave kindly. Your comfort and dignity are important. That means, for example, that in the last days of life you can decide whether you feel like eating and drinking even if your need for food and fluid is already being met another way, such as through a feeding tube or a drip.

Five priorities for care

Experts have agreed that there are five important priorities for the care and support that you and your carers can expect to receive in the last few days and hours of life.

  1. You should be seen by a doctor regularly and if they believe you will die very soon, they must explain this to you and the people close to you.
  2. The staff involved in your care should talk sensitively and honestly to you and the people close to you.
  3. You and the people close to you should be involved in decisions about how you are treated and cared for, if this is what you want.
  4. The needs of your family and other people close to you should be met as far as possible.
  5. An individual plan of care should be agreed with you and delivered with compassion.

You can read more about the five priorities for care in What to expect when someone important to you is dying (PDF, 1.49Mb).

Every moment counts (PDF, 1.79Mb) describes person-centred care from the point of view of someone approaching the end of life.

Who can I speak to if I am concerned?

Good end of life care includes good communication between you, the people close to you and the staff caring for you.

Your health and social care team are required to listen to your wishes and concerns and to pass you on to someone who can help if they can't. At the least, they should listen to you fully and explain the situation to you clearly.

If you are not happy with how someone has dealt with your questions or comments, you have the right to complain to the organisation they work for. The law says that every GP practice, hospital, hospice or care home must have a complaints procedure that will tell you how to complain. Other kinds of organisation will have similar procedures.

Find out how to complain about NHS services

Find out how to complain about social care services

If you are not satisfied with how your complaint is dealt with, you can take it further.

How to take a complaint further

Read more about the different ways you can make a complaint about end of life care services in What to expect when someone important to you is dying (PDF, 1.49Mb).

Page last reviewed: 09/07/2015

Next review due: 09/07/2017

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