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Nurses trial leaflet which outlines pateints end-of-life choice

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Nurses are piloting a leaflet to help patients understand their choices at the end of life, Louise Tweddell reports.

The pilot, run by the NHS End of Life Care Programme, began this month in northern England and will be trialled at around 10 sites by February.

The 'Planning your future care' leaflet was designed with input from nurses. It is intended to help patients with a life-limiting illness make informed decisions and clarifies the terminology used around end-of-life choices.

It describes a non-binding statement of wishes that can be used by both professionals and families to determine a patient's best interests if they lose the ability to make decisions. It also covers how to make legally binding decisions such as advanced decisions.

Claire Henry, the programme's national director, said: 'This will allow nurses to introduce the area and suggest it may be helpful to look at the topics and to come back to discuss them.'

Pauline Kingston, former RCN palliative nurse forum chairperson and senior lecturer in adult nursing at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, welcomed the move.

'Anything that enables communication for patients to express their wishes is a good thing, as long as the nurses [using the leaflet] have the skills, education and ability to deliver it sensitively,' she said.

'I talk to nursing students about the Mental Capacity Act a lot and they still think that an advanced decision to refuse treatment is not legally binding, but I tell them it is and they should have it along with medical notes, so this is something that could be helpful in education.'

For a research article on palliative care in non-malignant conditions click here.

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