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End of life care

A younger woman placing her hand over the hands of an older woman

End of life care supports people who are in the last days, weeks, months or years of their life to live as well and as comfortable as possible and to die with dignity.

You are considered to be approaching the end of life when you’re likely to die within the next 12 months, although this isn't always possible to predict.  This includes not only those whose death may be imminent, but also those who:

  • Have an advanced incurable illness, such as cancer, dementia or motor neurone disease

  • Are generally frail and have co-existing conditions, which mean they’re expected to die within 12 months

  • Have existing conditions and are at risk of dying from a sudden crisis in their condition

  • Have a life-threatening acute condition caused by a sudden catastrophic event, such as an accident or a stroke


The care provided should meet the needs, wishes and preferences of the person who is dying, whilst also supporting their family and carers.  You have the right to express where you’d like to receive care and, ultimately, where you’d like to die.  This can be in your own home, a care home, hospice or hospital, depending upon your needs and preferences.

End of life care may also include palliative care, which consists of a range of different elements, such as managing your pain and other distressing symptoms, as well as psychological, social, and spiritual support for you, your family and carers.

You may have a number of different health and social care professionals involved in your care, depending upon your needs, such as your GP, community nurses, hospice / hospital staff, physiotherapists and occupational therapists.

Please note: If you’re being cared for within your own home or in a care home, your GP will have overall responsibility for your care.

Local support

Acorns Children’s Hospice provide specialist palliative nursing care and support for babies, children and young people aged 0 to 18 years old, who have life limiting or life threatening conditions and associated complex needs.

St Michael’s Hospice provide specialist end of life and palliative care and support for people living with a terminal illness and their families, both within the hospice or the person’s own home.

Wye Valley NHS Trust offer specialised palliative care both within Hereford County Hospital and in the wider community in Herefordshire.

National support

Dying Matters is a partnership of different individuals and organisations, which aim to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement and to make plans for the end of life.

Hospice UK is the national charity for hospice and palliative care, whose work supports the continued development of hospice care across the UK.  They work to ensure all children and adults living with a terminal or life-shortening illness receive the care and support they need, where and when they need it. 

The NHS provide information and advice on end of life care, including what it involves, planning ahead and how to cope with a terminal illness.

ReSPECT (Recommended Summary Plan for Emergency Care and Treatment) is a process which encourages people, especially those with complex health needs, to have an individual plan in place prior to needing emergency clinical care, to ensure that when they do need care in the future, it’s in line with their needs and wishes.