Key messages

“Just as when we come into the world, when we die we are afraid of the unknown. But the fear is something from within us that has nothing to do with reality. Dying is like being born: just a change” – Isabel Allende. The House of the Spirits (2011)

So you’ve come to the end of this resource, and although you will find the content challenging and complex, hopefully it has given you the knowledge to allow you to provide quality end of life care. Remember to be honest with yourself and don’t be afraid to admit if you feel out of your depth. You are only human after all!

You can always get support from a peer or colleague if you need to talk about a certain issue, and refer to the additional materials and research sections in this resource for extra reading.

Key points to remember

  • Dying is a natural process
  • ‘One size fits all’ decision making is morally wrong
  • Respond to each person compassionately and with dignity and respect, even if they are not your direct responsibility. This applies to the person at the end of their life, those close to them and their carers
  • Check that each person’s understanding reflects what they have been told
  • Establish a person’s wishes and avoid assuming a lack of capacity without careful assessment
  • Nutrition/hydration are regarded in law as a medical treatment
  • Artificial or clinically assisted nutrition and hydration may need to be discussed
  • The NMC Code of Practice says nurses “must recognise and respond compassionately to the needs of those who are in their last few days and hours of life.” (NMC, 2015)