The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has published new guidance calling on healthcare professionals to ask adults in the final days of life about their religious or spiritual beliefs:
“Care at the end of life should be responsive to the personal needs and preferences of the person who is dying. Discussions with the person can identify any existing expressed preferences for care, such as advance care plans, and explore their goals and wishes, preferred care setting, current and anticipated care needs and any cultural, religious or social preferences.”
The accompanying press statement argues that “knowing if someone holds a religious belief can be important for providing the care they desire. For example, someone who is Catholic may wish to receive the last prayers and ministrations”.
Sam Ahmedzai, Emeritus Professor of Palliative Medicine at the University of Sheffield and a specialist member of the NICE quality standard committee said:
“Control of pain and other distressing symptoms is very important for dying people, but good end of life care goes far beyond that. It includes asking about the dying person’s spiritual, cultural, religious and social preferences. Only by attending to these issues and concerns can we deliver truly individualised care for each person and those important to them.”