Terminally Ill Patients Urged to Write ‘End-of-Life’ Plan

An NHS trust has encouraged terminally ill patients to construct their own ‘end-of-life plans’.

This will involve instructing doctors, nurses and family about their wishes for their final months, days and hours.

The scheme has been developed by father of four Max Neill, 49, a former community nurse who is suffering from incurable bowel cancer.

And after it was recognised as being a promising concept, support was also offered by Dying Matters; part of the National Council for Palliative Care, and Hospice UK, the national charity for hospice care.

With a specific form having been created in order for people in their death throes to inform medical professionals of their wishes, Neill decided that it should eventually be available for widespread download by the general public.

Neill has collaborated with Helen Sanderson Associates In order to develop this scheme.

This organisation previously worked on a similar profiles for social care, education and healthcare organisations.

The palliative care team at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust were positive about the plan having viewed it, and doctors at the organisation have agreed to promote the widespread availability of the template.

Commenting on the issue, palliative care nurse Sarah Russell, Head of Research and Clinical Innovation at Hospice UK, the national charity for hospice care, indicated that the charity is positive about the idea and believes that the general public will benefit greatly from the scheme.

“We are going to be taking Max’s concept forward and providing information to health service providers throughout Britain about how to offer this as an option. The idea [behind one-page profiles] is to help remind healthcare professionals that patient are also people. It also encourages conversations with family members, which is just as important.”

It is thought that the new document could be a major step forward over existing schemes such as the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway.

Considering the importance that medical health professionals have had in the drafting of this new plan, it is thought that it will ultimately be far more appropriate than previous schemes.

Offering his opinion on the subject, Neill provided his experience of terminal illness, and explained why he had first conceived of the idea.

“When you are terminally ill, your life can become dominated by the medical side of things. There is also a tendency to panic if there is a crisis and do everything possible to extend life, such as emergency surgery that might only extend life by a few days. My end-of-life plan states that I do not wish for this to happen. I want to die at home. I’d like have a glass of red wine to sip, if I can.”

While assisted dying remains illegal in the United Kingdom, many campaigners would like to see the practice introduced to Britain in the coming years.


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