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End-of-life care in aged care homes

Caring for someone at the end of their life

If you are caring for someone living in an aged care home who is nearing the end of their life, there is help and support available during this difficult time.

As a carer your presence and actions can provide emotional and physical support for the person who is nearing the end of their life. You know first-hand their wishes and needs and can help staff in the aged care home make things as comfortable as possible during this stage.

Support in an aged care home

Staff in the aged care home will help them to feel as comfortable and supported as possible. They can help develop a care plan to best support the care needs of the person, and their family and carers. A good care plan may:

  • show how pain and other symptoms might be managed
  • show how emotional and spiritual support could be provided
  • show how cultural support could be provided
  • help family members make decisions about care options
  • help those involved know what to expect
  • show how support to families and carers through the bereavement process could be provided.

Staff will also be able to help with nursing support or pain management. If you think extra support is needed, you can ask staff if you can purchase additional staff hours to help.

There may already be an Advance Care Directive in place to outline preferences for treatment during a serious illness or if you can no longer take part in decisions about your health.

Will the person have to leave the aged care home?

A person nearing the end of their life may need to leave if the aged care home can’t provide the care and support that’s needed.

The Resident Agreement should outline if the home can provide care at the final stages of life. Depending on the terms in the Agreement, the decision to go to hospital for treatment may lie with the person in consultation with their doctor.

If a person does go to hospital, their place must be kept at the home while they’re away.

Palliative care

For people who have an advanced illness, with little or no prospect of cure, palliative care can be provided in an aged care home. The aim of palliative care is to achieve the best possible quality of life for the person, their family and carers.

Support for carers

When you spend most of your time looking after other people, it's easy to forget to look after yourself. It is important to take time to stay fit, healthy and relaxed. There are services for you as a carer to help you, including counselling and support services.

Next steps:

Next steps:

Next steps:

Call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 to talk about options that may be available for you.

Read more about planning for end of life.

Last reviewed: 14 May, 2018.