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Learning modules

Activity 13: End-of-life concerns

Providing support and information

The end stage of a person's life can provide some of the most profound and memorable experiences for family members. These moments can provide a time for sharing thoughts and hopes and expressing love and support. It is a time for saying goodbye. However it may also be a time when families experience extreme distress and require a great deal of support from the health care team.

The team needs to provide support and information to the person and their family to minimise distress where possible.

Family and other caregivers often have particular concerns and fears about end-of-life issues.

Family members often want to know what will happen and what they can do to help. They are often concerned that they will not be able to cope with the events. While it's not possible to predict how a person will die, there are some specific strategies that might help provide support to family members.

Several Palliative Care organisations have developed brochures about the dying process. One example is About the Process of Dying by Palliative Care Queensland. [1] It may be a useful tool for health professionals to use when dealing with challenging conversations around death and dying.

Thinking points


1. Palliative Care Australia. (2012). About the Process of Dying. Retrieved March 26, 2013, from