Manage Dying - Home Care

Manage Dying

This section reviews resources to assist you in recognising that someone is imminently dying and to provide support for dying clients and their families.

Manage Dying - ELDAC Care Model
Recognising Dying

While individuals may differ in their signs and symptoms of dying there are some common indicators that a person may be in the final days of life. These include:

  • Signs and symptoms associated with the terminal phase
  • Experiencing rapid day-to-day deterioration that is not reversible
  • Requiring more frequent interventions
  • Becoming semi-conscious with lapses into unconsciousness
  • Increasing loss of ability to swallow
  • Refusing or unable to take food, fluids or oral medications
  • Irreversible weight loss
  • An acute event has occurred requiring revision of treatment goals
  • Profound weakness
  • Changes in breathing patterns

The CareSearch website has a section on Planning for a Home Death which includes a checklist for planning an expected home death. Main topics covered are:

  • clarify expectations and support
  • assess the home situation
  • plan for symptom management
  • information that families need

There also is a resource tab for clients and family caregivers.

Talking About Dying

Talking about death and dying can be difficult.

CareSearch provides an extensive list of resources for discussing the process of death and dying.

palliAGED has a downloadable Practice Tip on Talking About Dying for Nurses (pdf 315kb) and Careworkers (pdf 454kb)

End of Life Medications

Assessment and management of symptoms is critical for dying residents. Information about medication is available on the CareSearch GP Hub - End of Life Symptoms webpage including:

1. An overview of key points guiding quality pharmacological management of end of life (terminal) symptoms.

2. Prescribing information for managing common end of life symptoms: Pain; anxiety and emotional distress; delirium that is causing distress; excessive secretions; nausea and vomiting; and shortness of breath.

The caring@home project has resources to support people to be cared for and to die at home, if that is their choice. This factsheet (pdf 209kb) provides information about caring@home and outlines the resources the project has available to support Home Care Package providers.

Syringe Drivers

A syringe driver are commonly used for symptom management and are used to provide continuous medications subcutaneously when a person is no longer able to swallow. More information and resources about syringe drivers can be found at this CareSearch webpage.

palliAGED also has information on Subcutaneous Medication Administration.

After a Client Has Died

There are legal regulations and laws concerning death certification and coronial procedures. Death is to be verified and depending on which state or territory you are in this may be done by a nurse or doctor. Certification of death must occur which is usually by the GP. In some instances deaths must be reported to the coroner.

palliAGED has a downloadable Practice Tip on After-Death Choices for Nurses (pdf 220kb) and Careworkers (pdf 442kb)

The After Death Care section of the CareSearch website has information on things to be done after the client has died including:

Watch the ELDAC Home Care Toolkit educational video on After Death Care and Bereavement.

ELDAC Toolkit Educational Video

The ELDAC Manage Dying educational video will help you to recognise deteriorating health; identify the changes that show death is near; understand the benefits of open communication and ’talking about dying' and support and care for the client dying at home.

  • Family Resources

Palliative Care Australia has a webpage and accompanying handout on explaining the Dying Process including changes that family might notice, how to know that death has occurred and what they can do to help.


The At the End section on CareSearch provides information for clients and their families as the end-of-life approaches.


Pathway 4: When the Person is Dying provides information and resources for carers of people with palliative care needs.

Research Centre for Palliative Care, Death and Dying (RePaDD)

A guide is available from RePADD to support and provide information to family and friends about someone entering Residential Aged Care through to the end of life. The booklet is called When someone dies in residential aged care: Grief and loss for families (pdf 8MB).

Page updated 2 November 2022