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Key Theme Ten

Key Theme 10: Optimising independence and wellbeing: Last Years of life.

This section of the strategy tells you:

  1. What we have identified as the key priorities relating to this theme;
  2. Why we have identified these key priorities;
  3. What we plan to do to make a positive difference.

Many of the plans set out in this and other themes in the Ageing Well strategy are ambitious, and will require close and effective partnerships across a range of local organisations from the statutory, community and private sectors and, crucially, with local communities for these ambitions to be realised.

Supporting people to die well, and in the place of their choosing, is a critically important element of an overall approach to ageing well.

In Tower Hamlets, the term “last years of life” has been adopted to describe the period preceding death, recognising that this time may be days, weeks, months and even years for different people. Nationally the term ‘end of life care’ continues to be used to describe care in the last 12 months of life, acknowledging that many people are living longer with multiple long term conditions and frailty, and that care in “the last years of life” better describes their needs.  

Changing the terminology to “last years of life” aims to help health and social care service providers to respond early to the care needs of patients and their families, when they are better able to express their preferences about the type and place of care and death, and when care can be tailored to their changing needs.

Last years of life care includes palliative care - an approach to care that is life-enabling and prioritises comfort and quality of life. Palliative care has often been used synonymously with ‘end of life care’ since it developed as a clinical specialty in the 1960s in response to managing the complex symptoms of advanced cancer. It is defined by the World Health Organisation as “an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.”

The appropriateness of a palliative approach to care should be based on the person’s needs, not just on diagnosis or life expectancy.

Update Spring 2018

We are updating out action plan which will include: normalising End of Life care as part of ageing well, training for care home staff in end of life care in partnership with St John's Hospice, as well as improving the Palliative Care Pathway.

For further information, please contact stephanie.graden@towerhamlets.gov.uk, 020 7364 0391.