End of Life Care
Please note: This information is for you if your loved one is in the final stages of dying.
If you are looking after a loved one who is in an earlier stage, please click here for more information.
How to Create a Calm, Dignified and
“Caring for a dying family member is extremely tough.
So first, please let me extend my sympathies and offer my support.
Everyone deserves to die with dignity in a calm environment and without pain.
This is not always the case. Many people are overwhelmed and their loved one’s death is chaotic and stressful.
I’m sure this is why you are here, and since you’re under time pressure this information gets straight to the point.
It does not avoid the issue of death or what is happening. Being up front means you get the help you need.
I’m sure you’ll appreciate it.”
To help, you can download and print this one page guide. It summarises the changes you will see in your loved one and in yourself and advises you on how to cope.
Click on the image to open it, then print it and keep it handy.
What’s important right now is you make clear, rational decisions. The strain you’re under often leads to poor decisions.
To help, here are the 5 principles of end of life care to think about in all your decisions.
- Don’t leave it to the last moment
- Make calm, rational decisions
- Nothing is more important than the person dying.
- You are also important.
- At this stage medicine is to ease suffering.
Have a plan of what to do as things progress
Death is a process, and while it’s devastatingly sad it’s a natural part of life. As somebody’s body shuts down different things will happen. You should know these signs so you can help them.
Your plan should include:
- Spending time that you shall cherish, you are not looking after someone who is ill.
- Knowing when to call for extra support if you need it
- Knowing when to call extended family to be by their bedside
- And what pain relief and other interventions are needed at different times.
As a guide, the frequency with which changes occur indicates how long they have left. If things change daily they have days to live. However when their condition changes hourly they generally only have hours to live.
Clear judgment, decisions and knowledge could be the difference between a peaceful death surrounded by family or a chaotic one.
You must be aware of the signs that stress is clouding your judgment.
Watch for these signs in yourself:
- You do things such as unnecessary housework which don’t make sense in the circumstances
- People may find it hard to understand you
- You feel drowsy or sleepy
- You are shutting out and ignoring family members
The important thing is recognising these signs of stress and getting help. You may ask someone else to help you make decisions. Or you could simply get someone in so you can rest.
Clear and rational decisions make a huge difference in the quality of life your loved one has left. I’m sure you agree how important this is for them and for you.
Caring for a dying loved one can seem so out of control that many carers try and escape back to ‘normality’.
A fixation on common household tasks is common. If this sounds like you then ask for help. For their sake, and for yours your focus should be on your loved one.
Just being there for them makes an immense difference. Research shows people dying appreciate being touched and massaged.
Many people have confided in me that what they regretted most when their loved one died was not being there enough near the end.
Your health and wellbeing is just as important as your loved ones.
How can you help them when you’re not in reasonable shape yourself?
This is why you must rest when your loved one rests. And if you can, have someone monitor them for you and wake you up if things change.
This way you’ll both be awake and alert at the same time. And you can make the most of the time you have left. This is better than being half-asleep during the time you have.
Your job is not to heal – it is to ease suffering, whether you are in a hospice or at home. You need to ensure that they have adequate pain relief. Make sure pain is being managed appropriately and watch for signs of distress.
If you are in a hospice or hospital you can insist on pain relief medication your goal is to manage this pain.
This is why you should always ask for extra pain relief when you feel it necessary.
Do You Need Help?
Right now the correct support is critical. You should aim for the best possible outcome for your loved one and yourself.
The important thing is to create a calm, dignified and pain-free death.
If you are in a hospice or hospital you may not feel there is enough care.
If you are at home it’s even more important to have support.
As a minimum you should have family and friends with you as often as possible. All the time if you can.
You should also have access to medical advice the moment you need it. This will help you monitor your loved one’s condition, react to their condition as it changes and ease any pain.
If you would like support from trained professionals then we can help you.
I will briefly detail how we can help you so you can make a decision, and get back to where you are needed.
Here are some of the reasons people benefit from our help:
- We can get medical care there in 2 hours with all the equipment we need, no matter what time of day or night you call. This means you can be reassured support is there for you.
- We bring all the equipment we need including needles, syringes, bandages and so on.
- All our nurses are fully trained palliative care nurses, certified and recognised by the Australian Nursing Federation. This means:
- Your loved one will be cared for by a fully trained nurse with at least 3 years’ experience. They will calmly cope with anything which happens, and can advise you on what is happening and what to expect
- Your loved one will have their pain and symptoms managed to assist in being as comfortable as possible.
- Care can be provided around the clock. This means you can catch up on some sleep, and if anything changes we will wake you up. You’ll be fresh the next day to give them your fullest attention.
- Our nurses come with a laptop and internet access to give you instant email access to doctors and family members.
- Your nurse knows the various formal and informal processes around dying, and can guide you. They also know when family members should be called and will help you with this if you like.
- Our nurses know you need care too. They will answer all your questions, help you with household tasks when appropriate, monitor your loved one while you sleep and provide you with the frank, honest advice you need.
We can support you in a hospital or hospice
Our palliative care services are not limited to the home. Hospices cannot legally stop you requesting further support, and in fact they are very supportive of our staff.
So even if your loved one is in a hospital or a hospice you can still ask us for extra help. We contact the staff there and take care of the formalities, and you can have a dedicated palliative care nurse there exclusively for your loved one.
What is your next step?
I know what you’re going through, so we have made the process as quick and simple as possible.
Your first step is to call us on 03 9001 9762.
Caring for somebody dying is a 24 hour job, so we are available 24 hours a day.
You will talk with one of our staff about your situation. We will talk about how we can assist and what our fees and charges are.
If you choose to go ahead we will work out the care you need, and arrange a nurse to go to you immediately. They will be with you in 2 hours or less.
Naturally trusting your nurse is important. They will be helping you make critical decisions. So you are welcome to interview them, or you can trust our judgment. And of course if you have concerns at any time with your nurse you can talk to me personally about it, and we can organise a different nurse straight away.
This is unlikely though since all our palliative care nurses are hand-picked personally for their professionalism, their medical knowledge and the way they dedicate themselves to caring for you and your loved one at this difficult time.
Many people tell us that our nurses being there, and their level-headed advice made things a little easier.
What does this cost?
Our rates are very reasonable. When somebody close is dying it’s very important their pain is managed and you spend as much time with them as you can. This may make it a very good investment.
We can discuss rates and payment options when you call. There is no obligation to go ahead, and our staff respect how busy you are when you call.
The burden on your shoulders at the moment is enormous. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, or you want to know what support is available if you need it then call us and we can talk.
We know what you are going through and we are available 24 hours a day.
I look forward to helping you in this difficult time.
P.S. Did you download and print the 1 page information sheet? If not, click on the image to the right to open it and then print it.
This information sheet gives you quick information about the changes you may be seeing, and advises you on what to do. Print it and keep it nearby.