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MRC Prion Unit
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End of life care

End-of-life and bereavement care delivery remains etched on the memories of bereaved relatives. The importance of delivering this final care appropriately cannot be overemphasised and is recognised by the Department of Health (2005).It said that experiences around the time of death and afterwards can influence grieving and the longer-term health of bereaved people.

Healthcare Commission (2007) findings indicate that nurses need to improve end-of-life care for some and that suboptimal care impacts negatively on people's bereavement experiences. DH (2005) advice and its end-of-life care strategy (DH, 2008) highlight the importance of end-of-life and bereavement care and the impact on relatives' experiences. Nurses must focus on patients' and families' individual experiences. 

  • The Healthcare Commission (2007) highlighted the fact that 54% of complaints it received were bereavement related.

  • Poor communication and care were identified as key areas of concern, particularly in acute trusts.

  • The commission advocated the DH's (2005) advice as best practice for healthcare professionals.

  • Approximately 530,000 deaths occur in the UK each year and currently just under 60% occur in acute hospital settings. Following the launch of the end-of-life care strategy (DH, 2008), there has been much discussion on preferred place of care and place of death.

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