Cancer - End of life care

29 September 2015

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When the time comes in a cancer journey to plan end of life care, the patient and their family have already been through a difficult journey. They’ve dealt with many health professionals and had many investigations and treatments.

It’s very important that patients can express their needs and wishes about end of life care.

According to Macmillan, there are an estimated 2.5 million people in the UK (2015) who have had a cancer diagnosis. This is an increase of almost half a million in the previous five years.

Receiving care and services in the environment where they feel most comfortable and cared for is as important as the physical provisions of that care.

Ultimately some of those patients will eventually require assistance to achieve the provision of high level end of life care in the environment of the patients choosing, this means the demand for end of life care is increasing.

There are many agencies, organisations and charities (such as Macmillan, Marie Curie and Cancer Research UK) who can help you receive the care you need.

According to the Equity in the Provision of Palliative care in the UK review of Evidence (April 2015) most people say they would prefer to die at home.

There’s no set way to plan ahead. You may find it helpful to talk through what’s best with one of your healthcare team. You can also talk about it with someone you’re close to and can include your family and friends in the discussions with your doctors and nurses, ensuring you’re informed and able to express your wishes.

Your doctors and nurses should talk to you about advance planning for your end of life care. This means making decisions about how you would like to be cared for if you become too ill to tell people what you’d like. The doctor or nurse will write down your wishes. You can change your mind at any time and let them know at any time if your wishes change.

These organisations can give you further help and support:

Macmillan is an invaluable resource for anyone who is on the cancer journey. It can help direct you to the appropriate health care providers and put you in touch with other people who are currently or have had similar needs and concerns as you or your loved ones.

Marie Curie the charity aims to provide support for anyone with a terminal illness so they can die at home regardless of their condition. This can be a good way to access resources within your local area.

Cancer Research UK charity has the goal of curing cancer. The website provides valuable information about new developments in cancer treatment.

The National Council for Palliative Care is a charity bringing together all those involved in palliative, end of life or Hospice care in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In Scotland, end of life or Hospice care services are provided by the Scottish Partnership for Palliative care.