Partners for health in London: end-of-life care

Here is the challenge we set our partners working in the field of end-of-life care.

Improving the quality of life for dependent adults and their carers facing the impact of end of life

Recognition of the need for good-quality end-of-life or palliative care has increased over recent years, with greater resources committed by government, and a high profile given to palliative care in the NHS Cancer Plan. It has been an area of health where much of the pioneering work has been led by the voluntary sector, and today, large charitable agencies work closely with the statutory sector to deliver end-of-life care in a range of settings.

Those diagnosed with terminal cancer have been the main beneficiaries of service improvements, but access to care can be patchy for many other groups, including people with learning disabilities and those with mental health problems. End-of-life care has traditionally taken a holistic approach, encompassing clinical, emotional, practical and spiritual interventions for those who are dying, as well as for their carers and families.

Funded end-of-life care projects are delivering practical and emotional support to families where there is a dependent adult who is either in the process of dying, or their primary care-giver is dying.

We recognise that the impact of death on these families and individuals may be particularly great. For the dependent person, the death of a carer might mean loss of a home, security and familiar faces. The death of the person who is being cared for may trigger profound feelings of bereavement in the carer, who has to come to terms with the loss of a role they may have played for many years.