A new approach to caring for the dying

A new approach to caring for the dying

A new approach to caring for dying people based on the needs and wishes of the person and those close to them has been launched today.

It takes the form of five new Priorities for Care which succeed the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) as the new basis for caring for someone at the end of their life. The new approach focusses on giving compassionate care and is a move away from previous processes and protocols.

It recognises that in many cases, enabling the individual to plan for death should start well before a person reaches the end of their life and should be an integral part of personalised and proactive care. The new Priorities for Care mean that:

  • The possibility that a person may die within the coming days and hours is recognised and communicated clearly, decisions about care are made in accordance with the person’s needs and wishes, and these are reviewed and revised regularly.
  • Sensitive communication takes place between staff and the person who is dying and those important to them.
  • The dying person, and those identified as important to them, are involved in decisions about treatment and care.
  • The people important to the dying person are listened to and their needs are respected.
  • Care is tailored to the individual and delivered with compassion – with an individual care plan in place. This priority includes the fact that a person must be supported to eat and drink as long as they wish to do so, and their comfort and dignity prioritised.

The priorities put people and their families at the centre of decisions about treatment. They form part of the Alliance’s overall response, called ‘One Chance to Get it Right’, to an independent review of the Liverpool Care Pathway led by Baroness Neuberger.

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb, said: “The poor care given to some people and their families on the Liverpool Care Pathway must never happen again. There are many shining examples in the NHS of excellent end of life care, and I am committed to making sure that care in the last few days and hours of life is tailored to the needs of each individual.

“It’s also important that, where possible, planning for dying should start well before the last few days and hours of someone’s life, where they want to have those discussions. “We need to change the way that the NHS and society approaches end of life care and I’d like to thank Alliance members for their commitment to making this happen.”

The Alliance response also sets out how compassionate care for all those approaching the end of their lives should be delivered. Each organisation in the Alliance has set out what it will do to support this.

Alliance members will now work to embed the priorities into every aspect of their work on end of life care from initial training through to inspection.

The Alliance has also called on members of the public to participate in a national conversation about dying, to raise awareness and understanding of this important part of life.

The Priorities for Care follow an independent review of the LCP carried out in 2013 by a panel led by Baroness Julia Neuberger.Baroness Sally GreengrossBaroness Neuberger said on behalf of the review panel: “We welcome this response to our review recommendations and its wide range of commitments aimed at improving care of the dying.

“There is indeed only one chance to get it right, and in view of the importance of good quality end of life care for everyone, irrespective of age or setting, we have accepted Norman Lamb’s invitation to continue as a panel and will monitor progress against the commitments until July 2015.

“Our review exposed some distressing instances of lack of high quality care and we are indebted to those members of the public, as well as health and care staff, who told us about their experiences of the Liverpool Care Pathway.

“There needs to be in the very near future an explanation, in terms that everyone can understand, of what care they and those close to them have a right to receive under the new arrangements.  Without this, there will be continued suspicions of malpractice and lack of care which may not be appropriate.”