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New Guidance to Improve End of Life Care in Residential Care Homes

New guidance has been released that provides registered nurses with updated information on how to deal with matters such as cultural and religious beliefs when it comes to residential care homes end of life procedures.

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Care and Death Guide

In December 2016, Hospice UK published the Care and Death guide with newly updated information addressing areas such as legal requirements, organ donation, preparing the deceased for viewing and reducing distress and grief for families. This resource aims to provide clarity in these areas, as there are currently variations in practice.

The additional guidance was a collaboration between several different organisations, including the Royal College of General Practitioners and the RCN. Hospice UK combined all reports to produce the updated Care and Death guide.

To avoid unnecessary distress for grieving families because of delays in the verifying of deaths, it is crucial that nursing staff are clear about the legal requirements and procedure, the report determined.

Greater Expectations on Nurses

Following the BMA’s recent advice that doctors are no longer required by law to verify deaths, a greater expectation has been placed upon nurses to complete this process.

This additional guidance should plug any gaps and ensure that all nursing staff are clear about what is required of them and what their responsibilities are, making the procedure of verifying deaths as straightforward and smooth as possible. This will help avoid any unnecessary delays that could cause additional distress to loved ones already grieving.

Unlike the original Care and Death guide published in 2011 that concentrated mainly on adult care in residential care homes, acute hospitals and at home, the most recent edition covers post-death care in prisons and mental health services as well.

Whether a loved one is in a private care home, an acute hospital or at home, this is a very difficult time, and care nurses must continue to provide emotional and logistical support for bereaved families, ensuring that at all times respect and dignity are maintained.


The care that nurses provide makes a huge difference to the experience of a dying person and their families. By clarifying the process, nurses can be confident that they are acting in the best interests of the person in care and their loved ones. By providing timely verification of death and support for grieving families, nurses can fulfil their roles to the best of their abilities.

With a Look to the Future

As organisations follow this newly produced guidance and put it into clinical practice, we can expect to see an improvement in the care that bereaved families experience. Nurses will feel better prepared and aware of their responsibilities, making it a smoother and less distressing time for all.

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