Getting help and support when you are dying

Emotional and practical support can be a great help to you and your carers when you are dying.

Asking for help

Some people find it very hard to ask for help. You might worry about bothering people or feel that you should be able to cope alone.

It can also be difficult to know where to find the support you and your carers need. But the right kind of support can make things easier for you. So do ask what help is available.

GP and nursing support

Your GP will help with any medical problems that come up. They can also make referrals to nursing services for you. This includes:

  • district nurses
  • community specialist palliative care nurses
  • Marie Curie nurses

District nurses

District nurses can give nursing care and advice. They can also get you special equipment to help you with home nursing (for example, a commode or bedpan).

Community specialist palliative care nurses

Community specialist palliative care nurses advise on pain control, sickness, and other cancer symptoms. These are, for example, Macmillan nurses or hospice nurses.

They also give emotional support to both you and your carers.

Marie Curie nurses

Marie Curie nurses give nursing care to people in their own homes. They can visit you during the day or spend the night to give your carer a break.

Social workers

For other types of help, it is a good idea to talk to a social worker.

You can find them through social services or the cancer unit where you or your relative is treated. Many hospices employ social workers who offer a range of services. They specialise in helping people near the end of their lives.  

A social worker can arrange:

  • home helps for shopping or housework
  • home care assistants for washing and dressing
  • meals on wheels
  • respite care

Your social worker can also help you with money matters, by checking you're getting all the benefits you're entitled to. Or they can arrange charity grants for things like extra heating costs or special diets.

They might also offer counselling and advice about any practical issues you are dealing with.

Breaks for carers

Sometimes your family or carers might need a break. If so, your GP, specialist nurse or social worker might be able to arrange for you to go into a hospice or care home for a short time. This is called respite care.

Or they may be able to organise more support in the home so your carer knows you will be well looked after while they are away. 

Carers can sometimes be reluctant to take much needed breaks. It can help to remind them that having a short break will help them to keep going and give them more energy in the long run.

Who else can help

There are many other sorts of help. What is available varies from place to place.

Sometimes local voluntary groups offer sitting services (someone to come in and stay with your relative while you go out). There might be good neighbour schemes that offer befriending or practical help with shopping or transport.

Many support groups offer practical help and are also a good source of information about local services.

Ask your doctor or nurse about support services and groups in your area

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