Lancaster University

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Advice on End of Life Care

05/16/2008 10:31:19

Professor Sheila Payne
Professor Sheila Payne

Lancaster University’s Chair of Hospice Studies says end-of-life care is a matter not just for professionals but for society to consider.

She was speaking as a member of the working party involved in the British Psychological Society’s document The Role of Psychology in End of Life Care, published on May 14. It will be sent to members of the House of Commons and the Lords as well as Chairs in Palliative Care and external stakeholders.

Professor Sheila Payne of the University’s International Observatory on End of Life Care said the document should be seen as an ongoing commitment.

She said: “Dying is the business of all of us, not simply the policy makers and health care professionals. As the impact of legislation such as the Mental Capacity Act encourages individuals to make advanced decisions about their care we will be constantly encouraged to consider how we want to look after ourselves and be looked after in the final stage of our life.”

One of the conclusions reached by the document is that one of the key needs of Patients who are dying, and their families, is for well co-ordinated and clear communication especially in the last few weeks and days of life.

The document examines many of the key issues surrounding end of life care, such as whether it is appropriate to continue to provide active treatment and care; euthanasia and physician assisted dying; disadvantaged dying (ie those who are neglected because of ignorance or prejudice) and managing staff burnout for those working in such a demanding field.

The document also aims to be of assistance to staff who provide end of life care across health and social care settings including specialist palliative care, oncology, older people services and services for people with learning difficulties.

Christine Kalus, chair of the working party, said: “It is apparent that people’s choices about care and preferred place of death often change as they become more unwell, and staff need to take account of these changes. They also need to be sensitive to the motivations of individuals and families, which are likely to be very different as the dying person becomes more debilitated as a result of their illness and/or disability.”