A good death: key conceptual elements to end of life care

Humanity is aware that death is an unavoidable inevitability of life; however, for most it is not a subject that overwhelms our everyday lives. For patients with life limiting, palliative, and end of life conditions, however, this is different, and with what little control they do retain over their health, experiencing a “good death” remains a priority. Paramedics in their capacity as community workers are frequently called to assist end of life care patients and their families, and whilst they may be au fait with practical and clinical elements of practice, such as pain relief, the conceptual and philosophical elements are perhaps less well known.This article introduces the concept of a “good death” before expanding on epistemology, existentialism, death anxiety, spiritual pain, grief, as well as the role of person and family-centred care, and empowerment. In addition, this article draws upon the author's personal experience of end of life care, in the hope that paramedics might have a better holistic understanding of the concepts related to those dying patients and families with whom we come into contact, ensuring a high quality, family centred, peaceful death for all.

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