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2nd Opinion - Caring until the end

Katie Lindsey highlights the crucial role that physiotherapy staff can, and should, play in end of life care

I was interested to read Jules Moss’s reflections (viewpoint, 4 April 2012) on the important role that physiotherapy support workers play in caring for people with terminal illnesses.

She highlighted the value of communication skills and provision of emotional support.

I worked for many years as a physio before moving into public health, and now the National End of Life Care Programme.

Early in my career I was fortunate to hear Dame Cicely Saunders speak about end of life care, and her words have stayed with me.

‘You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life. We will do all we can not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die.’

The transition from living with a long-term condition to the end of life care phase is often gradual.

Physio staff are key members of the multidisciplinary team and can help people achieve goals important to them, such as spending quality time with their families.

Physio staff have often developed long-standing relationships with patients and are in an excellent position to support them to articulate their needs and empower them to share in planning care.

The value of providing emotional support and listening to fears and concerns can make all the difference to well-being, and good communication underpins all elements of care.

All those working in the NHS, GP services, social care and hospices have free access to the End of Life Care for All suite of online training.

There are four core modules: advance care planning; assessment; communication skills; symptom management, comfort and well-being, plus three additional ones (social care, spirituality and bereavement).

To register, visit:

We have an ageing population and it is likely that more physiotherapists will be involved in caring for people at the end of life. I am keen to hear examples of how the profession is engaging in end of life care.

Katie Lindsey is project manager at the National End of Life Care Programme.




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