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Consultation on Draft Guidelines to be introduced for End of Life Care

The National Institute for Care Excellence (NICE) has published draft Guidelines on the care of the dying. This follows the independent review of the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) that was critical of a number of aspects of that Pathway, developed with the intention of providing good care to everyone thought to be dying, whether they were in care homes, hospitals or in their own homes.

The draft Guidelines emphasise the need for an evidence-based approach to the care of dying people. It seeks to address the main areas of concern raised by the Liverpool Care Pathway, including:

  • The need for recognition that a person is dying; emphasis is given to seeking advice from colleagues with experience of providing end of life care in cases of uncertainty.
  • The importance of considering hydration for those at the end of life and the need to discuss the risks and benefits of drinking with a dying person and those involved in the care of the dying person. This reflects one of the issues that have attracted considerable focus in some of the tragic cases that have received criticism within recent NHS investigations.
     

Previous concerns about end of life care have been associated with the poor implementation of the LCP and highlighted failures in decision making, the training of staff and good communication with patients and their families at this difficult stage of life.

The proposed Guidelines, currently going through the consultation process, are aimed at all healthcare professionals who might be involved in the care of a person who is nearing death. Although expressed to be applicable to those in an NHS environment, once the Guidelines are implemented they should be taken as setting standards in both the NHS and private sector.

The draft Guidelines are open for consultation until 9 September 2015.