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Themed review of end of life care

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What is end of life care?

End of life care (EOLC) is the care experienced by people who have an incurable illness and are approaching death. Good EOLC enables people to live in as much comfort as possible until they die, and to make choices about their care. It is about providing support that meets the needs of both the person who is dying and the people close to them, and includes management of symptoms, as well as provision of psychological, social, spiritual and practical support.

People are 'approaching the end of life' when they are likely to die in the next 12 months.

Barriers to good care

There is evidence of huge variation in the quality of end of life care that people receive, both across services, geographically and between different groups of people. CQC is addressing this in a number of ways.

As part of our new approach to inspection, EOLC is included as one of the eight core services we routinely inspect in acute hospitals, and it is also incorporated in our inspection approach in the other settings where it is delivered.

One of the recommendations of More Care, Less Pathway (the review of the Liverpool Care Pathway) was that CQC also review end of life care provision across sectors. CQC has made a commitment to respond to this recommendation through its membership of the Leadership Alliance for the Care of Dying People, which is taking forward the response to the review and the panel's recommendations.

The Alliance is committed to implementing "a consistent approach to caring for dying people across England, to ensure that everyone who is in the last days and hours of life, and their families, receive high quality care, tailored to their needs and wishes and delivered with compassion and competence".

Thematic work

Our thematic activity programme gives us the opportunity to develop our understanding of joined up, integrated end of life care as people experience it, and to understand why particular groups of people have a less positive experience. The work will bring together existing sources of evidence about quality of care and geographical variations, as well as using the findings of our own inspections of end of life care in different types of service.

The review will specifically look at the experience of patients with non-cancer diagnoses and multiple co-morbidities, as well as people with dementia, mental health needs, learning disabilities, people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, homeless people, and people from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.

It will look to share good practice and identify the action needed – both locally and nationally – in the next five years to address inequalities in EOLC.

The findings will be published in the Spring of 2015.

The full scope of the work is available below.

Inequalities and variations in the provision of End of Life Care thematic scope PDF | 262.66 KB

Last updated:
18 June 2014