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Palliative and end of life care

Palliative care manages the symptoms of an incurable or terminal illness, or the side effects of the drugs that are being used to treat it. Palliative care doesn’t cure the condition itself, but it will make you more comfortable by reducing pain or other symptoms and offering psychological, spiritual and emotional support. End of life care helps people who are nearing the end of their life to live well and to die in the most comfortable and dignified way possible. It also supports their family and carers in coping with the death of a loved one.


Palliative care can help to manage symptoms such as pain, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, constipation, difficulty sleeping or emotional issues relating to your illness. It may involve drugs, physiotherapy, complementary therapies or counselling. Palliative care is usually given as part of end of life care, but it may be offered at an earlier stage in an illness, for example, if you are receiving chemotherapy for cancer or to manage the symptoms of a chronic condition.

Your doctor or nurse will be able to refer you for palliative care services. You can also find out more about some of the palliative care services in West Sussex below.

End of life care supports you to be in control of how you’d prefer to be cared for during the last year of your life and where you would prefer to die. End of life care can be available in a hospice, at home, in a hospital or in a care home.

You can read more about end of life care on the NHS website.

Write an advance care plan

An advance care plan is an outline of your wishes regarding your future care. You can use it to tell people where you would like to die, what spiritual beliefs you would like to have reflected and any practical concerns that need to be taken care of. You can pass this on to your family, carers and medical professionals who are involved in your care. You can find out more about advance statements on the NHS Choices website. There is a template advance care plan on the Sussex Community NHS Trust website or you could use the Preferred Priorities for Care document on the Further information tab.

Make a will

A will lets people know what you would like to happen to your money, property and possessions after your death. You can find out more about making a will on the Gov.uk website.

Give someone power of attorney

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) allows another person to manage your health and care or property and finances if you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself. This may be particularly appropriate if you have a condition such as dementia that will affect your mental capacity to make decisions in future. You can find out more about LPAs in our Money advice section.

Consider an advance decision about treatments

If there are circumstances where you would not want certain further medical treatments, for example, being resuscitated, you can make an advance decision to refuse treatment or a ‘living will’. This states the situation and the kind of treatment that you do not want. It’s a formal document that needs to be written down, signed and witnessed. You can find out more about advance decisions on the NHS Choices website.

Talk to your family

Talk to your family and friends about your condition, your feelings, your worries, and your wishes for the future and your death and funeral. It can make you feel less isolated and it may help both you and them to be able to talk openly.

Hospices covering West Sussex

Hospices offer respite for people living with terminal or chronic illness. As well as residential care, they also offer day centre services, medical procedures such as blood transfusions, rehabilitation services and community nursing to help you stay in your own home. Most also have a bank of trained volunteers who can help you, your family and carers with practical tasks and companionship.
Last updated: 21 March 2023