Terms used about death and dying

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Advance care planning

Advance care planning is thinking about, and planning for, how you would like to be cared for towards the end of life. In east Suffolk, a personal yellow folder called ‘My Care Wishes’ is available for everyone living with a long term or life-limiting (terminal) condition. It gives you the opportunity to think about and record how you would like to be cared for as your condition progresses, in an urgent situation and as you approach your final days of life.

Visit the NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group website for more information about the ‘My Care Wishes’ folder, or discuss with your GP or healthcare team:


Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment (ADRT)

An ADRT, also referred to as a Living Will or an Advance Directive, is a written document that states any treatments you want to refuse in the future. It is only used if you are unable to express your wishes later on.

Visit the NHS website for more information:


Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (DNACPR)

A DNACPR is a document that states your wish (or a medical decision that has been communicated to you) to not have doctors attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if your heart or breathing stops.


End of life

End of life is a term that refers to what is likely to be the last 12 months of a person’s life. However, at the appropriate time, it will be relevant for all patients who have a life-limiting (terminal) illness and/or are on palliative only treatment or care.

End of life care

End of life care focuses on helping you to live as well as possible until you die, and to die with dignity. The people providing your care should ask you about your wishes and preferences, and take these into account as they work with you to plan your care. They should also support your family, carers or other people who are important to you.

End of life care planning

End of life care planning involves looking at issues across areas of your life that are particularly significant as you reach the end of life. It includes legal and financial issues, planning your funeral and exploring the options about your care and where you would like to die.


‘Just in case’ medicines

Sometimes prescribed in advance for symptoms that might present themselves in the future, ‘just in case’ medicines may be provided in a specially marked container called a ‘just in case’ box. Providing medicines in advance means that there is no delay in getting them when they might be needed quickly to help with symptoms. This may be particularly important for people who are not in hospital.

Visit the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) website for more information:


Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)

An LPA is a legal document that lets you (the ‘donor’) appoint one or more people (known as ‘attorneys’) to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf.

This gives you more control over what happens to you if you have an accident or an illness and cannot make your own decisions (you ‘lack mental capacity’).

There are 2 types of LPA:

  • health and welfare
  • property and financial affairs

You can choose to make one type or both.

Visit the NHS and Government websites for more information:


Life-limiting illness

Also referred to as a terminal illness, a life-limiting illness isa disease or condition that can’t be cured and is likely to cause death within a limited period of time. It can be difficult for doctors to predict how long someone will live for as it can depend on their diagnosis and any treatments they may be receiving. People with a terminal illness may live for days, weeks, months or sometimes years.

Some people may use different definitions, so it’s important to ask if you’re not sure what someone is saying or what it means.

Visit the Marie Curie website for more information.


Palliative care

If you have an illness that cannot be cured, palliative care will make you as comfortable as possible, by managing your pain and other distressing symptoms. It also involves psychological, social and spiritual support for you and your family or carers. This is called a holistic approach, because it deals with you as a “whole” person, not just your illness or symptoms.

Palliative care is not just for the end of life – you may receive palliative care earlier in your illness, while you are still receiving other therapies to treat your condition.

The NHS website has more information about end of life care: