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Caring for dying patients in the community setting

Caring for those who are dying and in the last days of life is a common aspect of caring for people in the community. While caseloads are time-pressured, stretched nurses can do a great deal to reduce any suffering at the end of life by providing optimal assessment and care. An important feature is that nurses first need to be able to identify when death is likely. They need sensitivity and to be able to build a therapeutic relationship with the patient and those significant to them. Nurses play a key role in providing and coordinating quality care and comfort, for which good communication skills are essential. Assessment and interventions to manage pain and symptoms, as well as helping to prepare patients and their families for death, are important. Community nurses can also direct family members to relevant resources and specialists, including those for bereavement.