News: Need for earlier end of life care discussions with non-cancer patients

Health and care staff are often failing to discuss end of life care needs “early enough” with patients with chronic progressive illnesses other than cancer, according to a major report by the CQC says The Nursing Times.

The Care Quality Commission noted that for conditions, such as advanced heart disease, respiratory disease and dementia, it could be difficult to know whether a patient was in the last year of life.

As a result, patients were not always being given appropriate care or the opportunity to make plans and choices with relatives about how and where they would prefer to be cared for and die, said the CQC.


It concluded that more needed to be done to provide truly personalised end of life care for all and to improve communication between healthcare staff and those who are dying, so that individual needs were always identified and addressed.

The CQC advised that early conversations should happen between staff and patients to help them make choices about their care at the appropriate time, and that there should be better coordination of services for those with multiple conditions or complex needs.

However, the CQC did highlight some examples of good and outstanding practice – such as where training projects had been set up to develop the skills of care home staff, and where local services had been developed to meet the end of life care needs of specific groups.

Overall, the CQC said that patients from certain groups in society were experiencing poorer quality care at the end of their lives than others, because providers and commissioners did not always understand or fully consider their specific needs.

The CQC called for action to ensure all patients had the same access to high quality, personalised care at the end of their lives, regardless of their diagnosis, age, ethnic background, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or social circumstances.

Professor Steve Field said:

“What is important is that everyone receives care based on their individual needs, delivered with compassion and sensitivity by staff with the right skills, and that there is regular and effective communication between staff and the dying person and their family,”


Original source:

Relevant training course


Using Empathy to Handle Difficult Conversations in End of Life Care

Description: This one-day course is designed specifically for who are likely to be delivering bad news or dealing with difficult and sensitive conversations and situations. The aim is to understand and develop key skills including empathy and strategies essential to improve empathic responses; these skills are based on proven protocols used to deliver bad news. Finally, a tool kit style check list will be provided to help Clinicians develop these skills.





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