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End of life care and the HCPC standards

01 Jul 2018
  • Our standards

Katherine Timms

Head of Policy and Standards

Katherine Timms, Head of Policy and Standards, talks through end of life care and the HCPC’s standards

We know end of life care is extremely challenging and emotionally demanding, but it can also be extremely rewarding where health and care professionals have the right knowledge, skills and support.

In 2008 the then Department of Health published its End of Life Care Strategy which set out a vision for giving people approaching the end of their life more choice about where they would like to live and die.

The strategy highlighted that most people receive excellent care as their life draws to a close however, it did focus on the opportunities and the on-going challenges providing end of life care presents. In particular, that there was insufficient training available to health and care professionals in how to identify individuals approaching the end of their life, how to communicate and plan their care with them, and how to provide them with the care they need.

Ambitions for palliative and end of life care: a national framework for local action 2015-2020 (‘the ambitions’)

A great deal of work has been done since the End of Life Care Strategy was published:

• new care processes have been developed;
• new indicators of quality have been set;
• new systems for scrutiny have been devised;
• new systems for funding are under development; and
• investment and innovation has led to significant progress, particularly in reversing the long term increase in the numbers dying in hospital.

The ambitions build on these positive changes and seek to improve outcomes to better individuals’ experience and quality of care. They set out what is needed across the whole system for good palliative and end of life care, and includes a focus on families, carers and staff.


How do these ambitions align with the HCPC’s Standards of conduct, performance and ethics?

The Standards of conduct, performance and ethics are the ethical framework within which our registrants must work, and include, amongst other things, expectations around treating service users and carers with respect, communicating appropriately and effectively, working within the limits of knowledge and skills, and managing risk.

The ambitions embody the principles outlined in the Standards of conduct, performance and ethics, in particular:

What does this mean in practice?

The ambitions require a change in focus, considering quality of life rather than rehabilitation or healing, which can be a challenging shift for health and care professionals who are used to providing active interventions intended to make people better.

Embodying the ambitions in practice means service users should be able to:

These practical applications are supported by the Government in the choice commitments they made in 2017 and can be found here along with an update on the national actions being taken to address these. Registrants should consider how they can enable the above ambitions, and where they face challenges in doing so, determine what support and training they need.

Where to go for further information

The Ambitions for Palliative and End of Life Care website is being developed in to a knowledge hub providing useful information and resources including assessment tools, best practice examples and case studies.

You can also get in touch with us at or on 020 7840 9815.

Page updated on: 20/08/2018