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End-of-Life Care for People with Dementia

Understand the needs of people with dementia, and how to better support them and enhance their wellbeing towards the end of life.

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End-of-Life Care for People with Dementia

Find out how to better support people with dementia at the end of life

A range of research has shown that the end-of-life care needs of people with dementia, and their families, are poorly understood and inconsistently addressed.

An awareness of the psychosocial, physical and spiritual needs of the whole person is key to tackling this issue - something that this online course will give you.

You’ll develop the knowledge and understanding that will help you provide better quality support to - and enhance the wellbeing and dignity of - people with dementia towards the end of life. You’ll also learn to better communicate and co-ordinate care with their families.


  • Week 1

    Maintaining dignity through relationship

    • Introduction

      Whatever our health status, every human being needs to connect with others, at every stage of life, including at the very end of life. This week we explore the concept of maintaining dignity through social relationships.

    • Connecting with others

      A holistic approach to end of life dementia care incorporates all aspects of the individual, including their connections with others. In this section, we focus on meeting social needs and maintaining effective communication.

    • Advance care planning

      Experiencing ‘a good death’ which meets the needs of the person with dementia and their family, requires communication about end of life wishes and preferences at an early stage.

    • Expressing self

      This section focuses on different aspects of self-expression, the environment of care and possible misconceptions about the sense of identity experienced by people living with dementia towards the end of life.

  • Week 2

    Maintaining dignity through comfort

    • Introduction

      The approach for all dementia care should follow the WHO definition of Palliative Care (2014) which considers the holistic approach to caring. In this week we will focus on comfort and wellbeing.

    • Wellbeing at the end of life

      Whilst keeping in mind social connectedness and psychological needs, we now focus on how holistic end of life care can be enhanced by good physical care, and the maintenance of comfort and wellbeing.

    • Nutrition and hydration

      Enabling individuals to exercise choice around eating and drinking may involve some difficult ethical decisions around beginning, continuing or stopping fluid intake and nutritional supplementation, as the end of life approaches.

    • Symptom management

      Some people fear dying in pain or with other distressing symptoms. Pain management, the prevention and management of delirium, and other approaches to managing physical symptoms become vital for good end of life care.

  • Week 3

    Maintaining dignity through finding meaning

    • Introduction

      This course has been underpinned by the concept of dignity and holistic care. In this final week we consider aspects of spiritual care - such as supporting people's religious beliefs and finding meaning in life, and death.

    • Finding meaning

      Attempts to find meaning in life and death may be expressed through experiences of formal or informal religion, as well as through reminiscence-based discussions, activities and prompts.

    • Specialist support

      In the United Kingdom, specialist support for the families of people living with dementia is often provided by Admiral Nurses. We now look at their role, as well as ways of managing and coming to terms with anticipatory grief.

    • Supporting families through grief

      Support for people living and dying with dementia, as well as for their families and friends, can come from a range of sources, such as informal social networks or more formal religious organisations, traditions and rituals.

    • Summary

      Congratulations on reaching the end of the course. We hope that you have found it helpful, and that it will enhance your work with people living with dementia and their families, at the end of life.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Discuss individualised care, taking into account psycho-social, physical and spiritual needs
  • Reflect on how social relationships and communication may be affected in advanced dementia
  • Identify symptoms associated with end of life, including recognising and managing pain in people with dementia
  • Explain the need to find meaning in the life and death of the person with dementia

Who is the course for?

This course is aimed at health and social care professionals. You’ll need a basic level of dementia awareness, which you may have gained in a health or social care setting, working with people with dementia, or through caring for a relative, friend or neighbour.

During the course, you’ll be able to discuss your experiences with other learners and learn from theirs. It may also be useful to you to have a friend or colleague with whom you can discuss and reflect on issues that might arise during the course.

What do people say about this course?

"I really enjoyed this course and have learned some new things. Again like others have enjoyed hearing from carers who have direct experience and appreciate their honesty. I have already shared the information re different faiths and how we may need to implement this into our practice."

"This course has been ALL helpful... relatives videos, links, tips on coordinating your loved one´s whole health... physical and emotional... the importance of caregivers health and bereavement... the admiral nurse video... pointing out of the whole address to your dementia affected relative the whole "enchilada"... so enlightening. "

Who will you learn with?

I’m a Senior Lecturer in the School of Health Sciences at the University of East Anglia

Who developed the course?

UEA (University of East Anglia)

The University of East Anglia is an internationally renowned university providing top quality academic, social and cultural facilities to over 15,000 students from over 100 countries around the globe.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps, but you can complete them as quickly or slowly as you like
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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What's included?

This is a premium course. These courses are designed for professionals from specific industries looking to learn with a smaller group of like-minded individuals.

  • Learn best practices from experts
  • Learn from the experience of other health professionals
  • Fit learning around your schedule with unlimited access
  • Get evidence of learning outcomes and CPD hours
  • Certificate of Achievement to prove your success when you're eligible
  • Download and print your Certificate of Achievement anytime

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