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End of life - what happens now

Quality of Life

As you near the end of your life focus will shift to your quality of life.

Quality of life is about giving you support to maintain and enjoy everyday living. It’s about you being at the centre of your care and focuses on your level of comfort, enjoyment and ability to continue daily activities and what affects you.

It may sometimes mean having to change expectations and make choices based on what is available and acceptable to you.

Managing your symptoms

Symptoms can usually be managed if you tell your doctor or nurse about them as soon as you can.

Please tell your doctor if you have concerns about any symptoms.

The doctor and nurse may ask questions such as:

  • How much do the symptoms affect your life?
  • What makes it worse and what makes it better?
  • Is it worse at any particular time of the day or night?
  • Does it disturb your sleep?

Planning for the future

If you have specific wishes or preferences, now is the time to discuss these with your carers and family and put them down in writing so people have a clear understanding of the type of care and treatments you would prefer.

You may want to ask yourself:

  • What does the care you receive mean to you?
  • What sort of treatment would you want and what treatment would you refuse?
  • Where do you want to be cared for - at home, in a hospice or in hospital?
  • Do you have someone special who can help you?

Health professionals will want to talk to you about your care, tell you what will happen as your illness progresses, provide you with choices and answer your questions. They will be sensitive but will never force you to talk about the things you don’t want to.

If you don’t know what care you want, or prefer others to make your decisions then you should tell them. Health professionals will always aim to provide what they feel is best for you.

One way of making people aware of your wishes is by a process called advance care planning.

Choosing where you want to be at the end of your life

You may want to consider where you would like to be cared for at the end of your life. Some people want to stay at home while others would prefer to go to their local hospice or hospital. Whatever your preference, make sure you share your wishes with your doctor, nurse, carers and family members.

How we can help

If you would prefer to be cared for at home or in a hospice we may be able to help. We have Marie Curie Nurses across the UK who can give free hands-on care, during the day or overnight, in your own home.

We also run nine hospices across the UK, which offer a range of specialist services and support for patients and families.

The Marie Curie Helper service is provided by specially trained volunteers who can offer one-to-one support according to your needs. For up to three hours each week, you can rely on the support of a dedicated Helper volunteer who will visit you in your home to provide companionship and emotional support.

Furthermore, we have made a series of video guides which are full of important advice to help you care for someone.

Emotional support

Some people who are going through difficult situations in life find it helpful to meet others in a similar situation. A number of support groups are available to support people with a life-limiting illness or health condition and those caring for them at home. Membership of these groups varies but usually includes people who have personal experience of a similar situation. A home visit may be possible if you cannot leave the house. 

If you are in contact with a Marie Curie Hospice or another local hospice, ask if they have a social worker who can advise you on local sources of support for people who are caring for someone.

Being cared for at home

Our 'being cared for at home' booklet gives practical information and advice to people who are seriously ill and their carers who are caring for them at home.
Download file
Being cared for at home (PDF, 749KB).
Being cared for at home (PDF, 749KB)
Category: Documents
(PDF format, 1016KB)

End of life: a guide

A booklet for people in the final stages of life, and their carers.
Download file
End of life: a guide
End of life: a guide
Category: Documents
(PDF format, 1443KB)
Our services

Find out what our hospices offer for patients and their carers.

What we offer
Approaching death

How body and mind is affected as death approaches.

Our advice
Further information

Find out how to help loved ones cope after death.

Further information