You have the right to express your wishes about where you would like to receive care and where you want to die. You can receive end of life care at home or in care homes, hospices or hospitals, depending on your needs and preference.
People who are approaching the end of life are entitled to high-quality care, wherever they’re being cared for.
Who provides end of life care?
Different health and social care professionals may be involved in your end of life care, depending on your needs. For example, hospital doctors and nurses, your GP, 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.
If you are being cared for at home or in a care home, your GP has overall responsibility for your care. Community nurses usually visit you at home, and family and friends may be closely involved in caring for you too.
When does end of life care begin?
End of life care should begin when you 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 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, dementia or motor neurone disease
- are generally frail and have co-existing conditions that mean they are expected to die within 12 months
- have existing conditions if they are at risk of dying from a sudden crisis in their condition
- have a life-threatening acute condition caused by a sudden catastrophic event, such as an accident or stroke
How do I find out about end of life care services in my area?
If you are approaching the end of life, or caring for someone who is, and you want to find out about the care and support available, your first step is to speak to your GP or to call the number your healthcare professionals have given you.
Part of their job is to help you understand which services are available locally. You can ask about all sorts of help – for instance, there may be particular night-time services they can tell you about.
Find Me Help has a directory of services for people in the last years of life, their families, friends and carers, based on where you live.
You can search for a wide range of practical, financial and caring services – for example, getting help around the house, taking control of your finances or speaking to a counsellor.
Carers can search for different kinds of support, including medical help, respite cover, carers’ support groups and bereavement services.