Supporting people at the end of life

There are many practical and emotional issues to work through when you, or someone close to you is reaching the end of life. For some, this could be making decisions about care, possessions, or finances, for others it could be about seeing people they love or sharing memories.

However, too often we hear that people’s wishes about care and support they receive at the end of life are not being met.

With an ever-increasing number of people living with long term conditions because of their cancer diagnosis and treatment, many could benefit from palliative and end of life care but are currently are not receiving it.

This care is central to the work Macmillan does helping people affected by cancer in Scotland. We work hard to help people who are nearing the end of their life are supported to make decisions that allow them and their family or carers to be prepared for their death.

We have information on Advance Care Planning, so people can make decisions about their funeral decisions, treatment options and if they would like power of attorney. We also support those who have been given an incurable cancer diagnosis during their last weeks, months or even year of their life.

We recognise the fact that every cancer patient is different and has a different set of needs. From financial advice or end of life planning to keeping active or managing pain, the support we can offer to people is more than just their last few days with a doctor or nurse.

Perceptions and understanding of palliative care differs between individuals – for example, someone with an incurable cancer diagnosis who is still at work may not see themselves as having palliative care need. And so, by introducing holistic needs assessments for everyone affected by cancer will ensure that people get the support they need when it is required.

We also have training on offer for professionals who work closely with patients with palliative and end of life care needs, aimed at providing new skills and learning about the options that are there for people.

We know that one of the things that matters most to people affected by cancer is a wish to ‘die well’. And, by making sure that we are there for people every step of their cancer journey, that this wish is closer to being realised.