End-of-life care is a special type of care. It is usually given to you in the final year of your life.
What is end-of-life care?
- End-of-life care is a special type of care usually given to you in the final year of your life.
- It can be hard to know exactly when someone is going to die. So, end-of-life care may not start until the final months, weeks or days of your life.
Important things to know
Why would I want end-of-life care?
The aim of end-of-life care is to help you to live as well as possible. It can support you to die with dignity in the place of your choosing. It can also include bereavement support for your family.
The focus of end-of-life care is on:
- Managing your pain or any other distressing symptoms
- Offering emotional, psychological and spiritual support
- Helping with everyday activities such as washing and dressing
- Offering practical support, e.g. getting equipment, planning for the future
- Financial support, e.g. help to explore benefits.
The type of care that you get will depend on your own personal needs.
How do I get end-of-life care?
You can talk to:
- Your GP
- Your hospital doctor (oncologist)
- Your nurse specialist.
- Your GP can help you with symptom relief.
- They can also tell you about other services that are available in your community.
- Your Hospital doctor (Oncologist) may be able to offer treatments that will help to manage symptoms.
- A social worker can help you to get:
- Practical help at home
- Advice on debt and maintaining your income
- Advice on housing issues.
- They can also offer psychosocial support and help to prepare you and your family for the end of your life. Your GP can help you to access a social worker.
- Physiotherapists can help with:
- Keeping active
- Providing exercise programmes
- Advising on everyday activities.
- They can also help with managing some of your side effects such as:
- Tiredness (fatigue)
- Lymphoedema (swelling caused by a build-up of fluid)
- Your GP may be able to refer you to an NHS physiotherapist.
- Physiotherapists also work at hospices and other charities.
- Your GP can help you to find out what is available in your local area.
- You can also get physiotherapy privately.
- Visit the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy website (this will open in an external tab) for information on how to find a physiotherapist.
- Dieticians can help to make sure you are getting the nutrition you need during your care.
- They can support you with your weight and strength.
- They can also give you special nutrition if you need it. This may be special high-calorie drinks or liquid foods.
- Your GP, hospital doctor or nurse specialist can refer you to a dietician.
- Dieticians work in hospitals and out in the community.
- You can also see a dietician privately. Visit the British Dietetic Association for information on how to find a private dietician (this will open in an external tab).
- Occupational therapists can assess your needs. They can help you to access any equipment you may need. This can be:
- Bathing aids
- Tools to help you dress
- Adaptations to your home.
- They can also help you to:
- Identify and achieve particular goals
- Keep your independence
- Manage symptoms such as, pain or fatigue.
- Your local hospice offer many in-patient and outpatient services such as:
- Pain and symptom control
- Physiotherapy and occupational therapy
- Psychological and social support
- Complementary therapies.
- They also offer:
- Financial advice
- Art or garden therapy
- Hospice at home services
- Support for family members
- Short breaks.
- Your GP can refer you to your local hospice.
- For more information on hospices, you can visit Hospice UK (this will open in an external tab).
- Nurses can help you to:
- Manage your symptoms
- Provide emotional support
- Give support to families.
- There are different types of nurses. For example:
- Community nurses
- Hospital-based palliative care nurses
- Cancer nurse specialists.
- Your GP or hospital doctor can help you to access nursing support.
- Some charities also provide nurse-based care.
- For example, Macmillan Cancer Support. You can learn more about their nurses on the Macmillan Cancer Support website (this will open in an external tab).
Marie-Curie also have their own nursing service. Learn more about how they can help you on the Marie-Curie website (this will open in an external tab).
- Money may be a problem if you are no longer able to work.
- You can ask your GP or hospital doctor to refer you to a social worker.
- They will be able to look at your financial situation. They can then give you advice on benefits or special funds that you may be entitled to.
- Many charities can also offer support and information. Some provide access to grants that can help with extra costs of equipment or fuel.
- The NHS website provides information on:
- The Gov.uk website provides information on benefits at the end-of-life, including non-means-tested disability living allowance (this will open in an external tab).
advice about welfare rights. You can call the Macmillan support line on: 0808 808 0000.
- Macmillan Cancer Support Advisors can offer financial guidance, energy advice and The support line is open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week. But, financial guidance is only available Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. For more information about their opening times, visit the Macmillan Cancer Support website (link will open in a new tab). Visit their webpage for information on benefits for people who are affected by cancer (link will open in a new tab).
- Clare Fuller is a nurse and end-of-life care expert. She provides information and support on:
All of links in this section will open in new external windows.
- You can access her free podcast called conversations about advance care planning with Clare Fuller.
- The NHS have a page that looks at what to expect from end-of-life care. All of the following links will open in external tabs. This includes:
- Marie Curie (this will open in an external tab) is the UK‘s leading end-of-life charity. They provide:
- Frontline nursing and hospice care.
- A free helpline for practical or clinical information and emotional support. You can contact their helpline on 0800 090 2309. The line is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm and on Saturdays from 11am to 5pm.
- Online support and information on all aspects of dying, death and bereavement.
- Penny Brohn (this will open in an external tab) are open to anyone aged 18 and over who has a cancer diagnosis.
- They also help people in a close supporting role.
- They support people to live well with cancer.
- They offer a holistic approach. So, the focus is on the whole person including mind, body, spirit and emotions.
- Macmillan Cancer Support (this will open in an external tab) provide information on many aspects of end of life care. Including:
- Sorting out practical issues
- Financial affairs
- Choosing where to die
- The last few weeks of life.
- The Macmillan support line offers confidential support to people living with cancer and those around them. It is open from 8am to 8pm. Call them on 0808 808 0000.
- Free specialist counselling: Through Bupa, Macmillan are offering up to six free counselling sessions for people struggling emotionally because they are living with cancer.
- People can access specialist support remotely within days if they qualify to use the service.
- To find out more, visit Macmillan's free specialist counselling page (this link will open in a new window) or call their free support line on: 0808 808 0000 and ask about the Bupa service.
- Sue Ryder (this will open in an external tab) support people who are living with a terminal illness, a neurological condition or who have lost someone.
Webinar – end-of-life care: what to expect and how to plan for it
In 2022 Prostate Cancer Research worked with Ipsen Ltd. to put together a webinar series called ‘What to Expect: A Guide to Prostate Cancer’.
The webinar is led by speakers Clinical Nurse Specialist Debbie Victor and Advance Care Planning Advocate Clare Fuller. They focus on:
- What end-of-life care is
- Where it’s given
- Who it involves
- The emotional, spiritual and mental aspects of end-of-life care and the planning it may require.
About this information
- This information was published in March 2023. We will revise it in March 2024.
- References and bibliography available on request.
- If you want to reproduce this content, please see our Reproducing Our Content page.