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Planning Ahead For Palliative Care

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  • Palliative Care, prepare
  • Posted date:
  • 12-12-2021
Planning Ahead For Palliative Care

How do you begin planning ahead for palliative care? This article looks at what you can do to prepare for end of life treatment.

What can I do to prepare for the end of life?

It is vital to consider, discuss, and make decisions on what will happen when it comes to the end of life. Writing down and making notes of these choices is also completely vital. 

People need to know your decisions and thoughts on what you want to happen at the end of life, so they will know exactly what to do and exactly what not to do. In the future, when nearing the end of life, it may be the case that you will not be able to tell the people yourself. 

How To Know If Someone Is Ready For Palliative Care

Although this process can be stressful, tiring, and upsetting, it is worth it not only for yourself but also for the people around you. Not all decisions need to be made at once, advance care planning is something that can be done over time.

You may want to speak to your family and friends, as well as nurses, your hospice, healthcare team, and solicitor. It is important to put some time aside to speak to the people who are closest to you. The end of life wants and needs that are important to you are more likely to happen if you are open about your thoughts and ideas with loved ones.

Planning for the end of life can feel incredibly overwhelming and stressful. You may not know where on Earth to start. Below are a series of questions you may want to think about yourself or discuss with your family, carers, and health care professionals.

What is most important to me now?

What can be done to help me if my breathing comes even worse?

What can be done to support my friends and family?

Is there anything that can be done to reduce any suffering I may experience?

Is organ donation important to me?

If I come incredibly ill, do I want to be admitted to the hospital? Even if that means dying in a hospital?

Where do I want to die?

What do I need to do when it comes to my will and finances?

Are there any specific treatments that under no circumstances do I want?

Looking after your health and wellbeing

You may not need to move away from your home in order to receive care. Hospice care and end of life can be provided for you at your home. This may vary locally, so your best course of action would be to ask your GP what is available.

A GP should be able to arrange for local community nurses to visit your home and provide their nursing care for you. If your condition is especially bad, then you may need care from a specialist community palliative care nurse. 

Why plan ahead for End of life care?

Planning ahead for the end of life care can help you receive the care that you want. This can also make things much easier for your partner, loved ones, family, and friends when you are nearing the end of life.

Some things can be done in order to help your family and friends with the bereavement process. For example, some people leave behind a "memory box" for people to remember you by or just the simple act of telling people you love them. Of course, none of this is necessary but is always worth consideration.

There is no set way of planning ahead for end of life care, but below are some useful tips you can take:

Begin conversations with your partners, family, carers and health care professionals about end of life care

Think about any specific wishes and preferences you may have

Choose where you would want to be cared for. This may involve speaking with healthcare professionals and other experts.

Legally appointing someone as your lasting power of attorney can be incredibly helpful. This gives the person the power to make decisions for you, in case you are not well enough to do this yourself in the future.

What is an Advance statement?

An advance statement is a written statement which states your preferences, beliefs, wishes and values in regards to the future of your care. The aim of a future statement is to create a guide for anyone who may have the power to make decisions for you. The statement is to ensure that your best interests are taken care of if you lose the ability to make decisions or communicate decisions yourself.

An advance statement can cover all aspects of the future of your social and health care. This can include:

Spiritual or religious beliefs which you would like to be reflected in your care

Where you would like to be cared for. For example, at the hospital, at a nursing home, a hospice, or at home.

Specific ways of doing things in life. For example, preferring to shower rather than bathe. Or sleeping with a dim light on.

Any practical issues that may come up, such as care for any pets or maintenance of your home

What is a living will?

A living will, sometimes known as an advance decision or an ADRT, is a decision you can make in the present in order to refuse any specific types of treatment at some point in the future. 

The living will lets your carers and family know your wishes when it comes to refusing treatment in case you are unable to make those decisions yourself or are unable to communicate those decisions in the future.

Any treatments that you decide to refuse must be named in full within your living will. You may wish to refuse treatments in specific situations but not in others. When this is the case, you need to write your wishes down clearly within the living will.

What is Lasting power of attorney?

If in the future you become unable to make decisions for yourself or are unable to communicate decisions for yourself, you will need someone to make the decisions for you.  For the most part, healthcare professionals will make decisions that relate to your social and health care, whereas your family or carers will make decisions that affect day to day matters.

If you feel it is necessary, you can officially choose someone that you trust to make all decisions for you. This is making a lasting power of attorney. It enables another person the right to make decisions that relate to your welfare and care. A lasting power of attorney can also make decisions on your financial and property matters.

Making a will

A will lets you decide what happens to your possessions, property, and money after the end of life. If you create a will, then you can also ensure that you do not need to pay more inheritance tax than necessary. 

It is possible to write a will yourself, but it is recommended that you should get advice on will writing if your will contains any complexities.

In order to make your will legally valid, it will need to be formally witnessed and signed. If you need to make any changes to your will, then you will need to create an official alteration. This is called a codicil. You can also create a whole new will if this process is easier.

Make a funeral plan

When planning for the end of life, you can leave written wishes for how you would like your funeral to be handled. The type of funeral that you want and what will happen to your body can be described within your will. 

Your plans and thoughts can also simply be given to someone that you trust. These plans can include music you would like included in the service, readings you would like to be spoken, and the people you want to attend. Arrangements can be made far in advance through the help of a funeral director.

If you have questions about planning ahead for palliative care, we hope this information has been useful to you.

We offer specialist home care services and live-in care for vulnerable adults throughout London. Get in contact today if you have a loved one that would benefit from professional care at home.