The main aim of those providing terminal care should be to improve the quality of life by removing or alleviating unpleasant symptoms and helping to prevent the patient from suffering, fear or loneliness. This quality care must be provided wherever the patient is, be it at home or in the hospital. Today, because of the home based care approach for HIV/AIDS, many patients are dying at home. This being part of the continuum of care, health care providers are expected to extend their services by training and supporting family members to ensure that terminally ill patients at home are well cared for.
All persons with terminal illnesses need end of life care. Towards the end of life it is essential that the patient and the family have social, emotional and spiritual support. In palliation in terminal illness one attempts to allow the patient to die with dignity and relieve him/her of distressing symptoms. Palliation also offers support to help the patient live as actively as possible until death and enables the family to cope with their loved-one’s illness and with their own bereavement. The carer needs to listen with empathy and should encourage communication within the family. Issues such as family and child support, schooling and welfare should be discussed. The patient should be told that he/she is loved and will be missed by family members. Spiritual support and discussion with the religious leader may relieve feelings of guilt. The carer should be available and should visit regularly. Bereavement counselling should be made available to family members including the children.