End-of-life Care – Clinical Basics

CPD Hours: 0.5
Current as at 27 October 2021
People at the end of life and their carers commonly feel uncertain in making decisions in the context of end-of-life care. They had to confront emotionally difficult conversations and navigate existential tensions during this time, while also feeling a sense of distrust and a lack of confidence in the information and support available to them in healthcare settings.

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“Understand the aspects of healthcare required during end-of-life care”

Course Content

People at the end of life and their carers commonly feel uncertain in making decisions in the context of end-of-life care. They had to confront emotionally difficult conversations and navigate existential tensions during this time, while also feeling a sense of distrust and a lack of confidence in the information and support available to them in healthcare settings.

At the same time, the health care professionals find it hard to overcome uncertainty if the person with dementia had not previously expressed their preferences. They may feel that adhering to the end-of-life preferences of the patient would make them responsible for the person’s death, or experience disagreement with other clinicians when advocating for the preferences of the person with terminal diseases.

The overall focus of acute hospitals is generally on diagnosis and treatment with a view to cure and discharge. In this context, recognition of the fact that a person may be approaching the end of life and in need of conversations about their goals of care, limitations of treatment, a palliative approach to care, or provision of terminal care are often delayed. This is particularly evident when family members are forced to make inferences when interventions or services were withdrawn.

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care suggests that despite understanding that a person with a life-limiting illness is dying, families often do not recognise when death is imminent. It highlights that health professionals should demonstrate empathy and attend to people’s uncertainty in decision-making, and it encourages us to confront emotionally difficult conversations.

Specific attention should be given to such areas as patient-health professional communication, elimination of misconceptions and biases towards death and dying, and the provision of comfort in caring for the dying in order to deal with the sensitive and challenging process of death and dying.

Learning Outcomes

In this session, you will:

  • Understand the aspects of healthcare required during the end-of-life care
  • Explore what the focus of the end-of-life care is
  • Know what guides the care delivered at the end-of-life
  • Discuss the management strategies for the symptoms of the end of life process
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