Volume 10, Issue 7: End of life careAuthor: Jon Dearnley-Lane
End of life care – sharing is caring
You are working on the rapid response vehicle as sole responder and have just parked up on standby when a call comes through, a 56-year-old female with difficulty in breathing. On arrival you realise the patient is terminally ill and in distress – how do you assess the situation and help the patient as well as support her family?
End of life care is considered for those who are expected to be in their last year of life. Ambulance services are regularly dispatched to patients approaching the end of their life which can prove challenging for clinicians, as they often feel uncertain about how to best care for dying individuals.
This article highlights the importance of good communication including care plans, preferences and any advance decisions as well as effective information sharing and flagging systems. There is also information on effective and appropriate use of anticipatory medicine and the recommended summary plan for emergency care and treatment (ReSPECT) process. Guidance is given on shared decision making with the GP services or local palliative care teams which can be invaluable to support the clinician’s decision. It also stresses the need to consider matters from the patient’s point of view to ensure they receive high-quality care according to their wishes and needs.