What is End-of-Life Care?
End-of-life care is a tailored service created for individuals experiencing the last days, months, or years of their lives. Death is a normal cycle of life that’s part of every living being and is inevitable.
However, we humans have the power and resources to make this part of life as comfortable, supportive, and caring as possible for those closest to us. End-of-life care provides this unique comfort during the last period of an individual’s life.
End-of-life care benefits the dying individual and their family and friends. The end of life can be difficult and emotional for any individual, and ensuring everyone receives the required support is crucial.
How Long is End-of-Life Care?
As with everything else involving death – there are no rules on how long end-of-life care can last. This type of service usually starts when an individual begins to require it, which can be different for everyone.
It can last for several days, months, and sometimes even years. It all depends on the state of the individual requiring the care.
The Goals of End-of-Life Care
The main goal of end-of-life care is to provide comfort and support for the dying person and their loved ones. In almost all cases, both parties are going through a difficult time, and the support workers provide emotional support to help them navigate these times easier.
Another goal is to assist with managing pain and other physical symptoms, making the process as comfortable as possible.
In all cases, the goal is to provide maximum support in all areas while the family is going through the experience.
End-of-Life Care Services
There are multiple service options families can consider when looking into end-of-life care. Choosing the service depends on the family’s needs, requirements, and budget. Some of the more common end-of-life care services include:
Conditions That Require End-of-Life Care Services
Professionals can’t pinpoint when an individual requires end-of-life care after being diagnosed with a life-limiting illness. However, with some conditions, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, a professional will brief individuals and their families on the specific stages of the diagnosis.
Any terminal illness might require end-of-life care services if the family prefers additional support. Listed below are a few signs that might indicate your loved one will require end-of-life care in the near future:
Support an End-of-Life Care Patient's Needs
When discussing end-of-life care, it’s crucial to consider the individual’s needs and how the service can benefit them while they’re getting closer to their final days.
These services can benefit your loved one if their experiencing pain, require a medication routine, or need practical help and assistance. Individuals sometimes need support with everyday activities such as feeding, bathing, and dressing.
In many cases, a family member isn’t always available to support their loved one with these activities, so end-of-life care can benefit both parties immensely.
When one is experiencing the last year of life, it can take a toll on their emotional well-being. End-of-life care can provide the much-needed support, empathy, and compassion that the individual and their family members require.
Relationships with Others
The individual’s family also benefit immensely from end-of-life care. The most important aspect is providing guidance on how to navigate the end-of-life process. Additionally, supporting them through the grieving phase is an essential part of end-of-life care.
The dying person also benefits from a relationship with others. This gives them space to express themselves without worrying about upsetting their loved ones.
Everyone deserves to go through their last days and maintain their dignity while being comfortable as possible. This includes getting their last wishes granted when it comes to how they want to spend their last days.
End-of-life care covers all these needs and provides a pleasant environment for the individual and their family.
Cultural and Spiritual Beliefs and Practices
Each individual has cultural traditions, spiritual beliefs, and religious practices. All of these are essential during the last days of one’s life and as part of death. So, individuals might need support to practice these traditions or beliefs.
Whatever the case, end-of-life care provides spiritual support and can fulfil their last wishes regarding their beliefs.
End-of-Life Care Plan
End-of-life care requires proper planning. This includes talking with the individual and their family to understand their needs better. Additionally, it’s crucial to understand what the services will entail and what the individual prefers.
Planning for End-of-Life Care
There are multiple aspects of end-of-life care planning that all families must consider.
This includes discussing accommodation and medication and understanding certain needs linked to the specific illness or condition.
During this planning phase, the careers and the family members lay the foundation of how the care will proceed until the end.
Legal and Financial Guidance
Legal documents such as power of attorney, living will, or advance directive can state what medical treatments an individual prefers in the future or during the care. This provides additional support to the family to understand the individual’s wishes clearly.
Clear and honest communication is crucial during this process. Family members play a vital role in end-of-life care, so it’s important to communicate all matters clearly. What’s more, during these situations, it’s easy for conflicts to arise among family members influenced by strong emotions and grief.
Support workers can often mediate these conflicts and help family members make decisions on housing arrangements and health and social care support.
End-of-Life Care Pathway
The end-of-life care pathway is a document that underlines a framework for providing individuals with the needed care and support in their final weeks or months. Processing the last days, weeks, or months of life can be emotional and difficult for the family and the individual. Therefore, this pathway should make the process easier and provide the individual with a better quality of life.
The pathway consists of six stages that social care professionals should follow during the care.
Step 1 Discussion – Although it’s difficult, openly discussing how to deal with the passing of one’s life is crucial. Carers should discuss which family member will be making the main decision as they proceed with the process.
Step 2 Assessment – Social care professionals should always learn the medical needs and requirements of the individual. Additionally, carers should take into consideration the individual’s spiritual or religious preferences during the process.
Step 3 Care Coordination – Depending on the case, care professionals need to plan ahead if there will be a need for nursing assistants or other healthcare professionals.
Step 4 Delivery of Service – No matter the case or situation, the services need to be provided under the individual’s consent and in the best possible environment. It’s crucial to understand that no matter the circumstances, the main goal is to provide the best possible service for the person experiencing the last year of life.
Step 5 Final days – This might be the most challenging part for the individual, their loved ones, friends, and carers. However, it’s important to ensure the utmost comfort, support, and compassion during the final days.
Step 6 Care After Death – Funeral arrangements and additional emotional support fall under the end-of-life care process. It’s crucial to show support in this last phase of the service.
Palliative Care and End-of-life Care
Palliative care is provided to individuals of all ages experiencing a life-limiting illness. This type of care aims at providing support and a better quality of life for the individuals. Additionally, palliative care focuses on pain and symptom management, as well as providing emotional and spiritual support.
Difference Between Palliative Care and End-of-life Care
The main difference between palliative care and end-of-life care is that palliative care is not just for end-of-life situations. This means that this type of care can be provided at any stage of an illness.
We can think of palliative care as a broader care service that also can include end-of-life care. However, the care and assistance are provided in the same way, just for a longer period of time.
Why is End-of-Life Care So Important?
As family members, we always want the best for our loved ones. Watching those dearest to us go through a terminal illness and its challenges can be heartbreaking and difficult.
So, end-of-life care can provide the highest-quality services that’ll make our loved ones feel comfortable, and cared for, while allowing them to enjoy the last days of their lives as much as possible.
On the other hand, emotional support and assistance can immensely benefit the family members going through this experience. Grief is a heart-wrenching experience, but we all deserve the empathy and compassion needed to go through it. Hence, end-of-life care provides this kind of support and can benefit the lives of family members who are losing a dear one.
End-of-Life Care Options with Leaf Complex Care
At Leaf Complex Care, we understand the pain and struggles that come with facing the death of a loved one.
That’s why we’ve built a unique end-of-life care service that covers the needs of the individual and their family. We’re proud of our support workers and their immense empathy, compassion, and strength in lifting up families requiring end-of-life care.
Whatever the needs of your loved one are – we can meet them and give them the care they deserve. We create tailored plans for each individual based on their preferences and needs.
Learn more about our services and how else we can help you or your loved ones.