Caring for people at the end of life

Coventry University and the University of Warwick have collaborated to produce a very informative leaflet entitled Competently Caring for People at the End of Life.

It covers issues such as communication, spirituality, planning for death and dying, signs and symptoms, and the last 24 – 48 hours.

For example, under signs and symptoms, the leaflet gives advice on caring for oral health (which applies to all health settings, not just End of Life care), including frequent mouth care and when to contact an appropriate qualified professional. It lists risk factors for developing mouth problems, such as:

  • Debility
  • Reduced oral intake
  • Failure to brush teeth
  • Dehydration
  • Side effect of drugs
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiotherapy
  • Mouth breathing
  • Oxygen therapy

It provides advice on what can be done to help, such as:

  • Brush teeth/dentures at beginning and end of day
  • Rinse mouth with anti-bacterial and anti-fungal mouthwash
  • Regular mouth care – check patients records to check frequency – for high risk patients or serious problems, treat hourly
  • Dry mouth: offer frequent sips of water, iced water, pineapple juice if allowed. Apply vaseline to the lips.
  • Contact appropriate qualified staff to report and seek help/treatment.

You can download the full leaflet here: Competently Caring for People at the End of Life

Other useful documents on End of Life care are:

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