Caring for a Dying Client

Follow the care plan when caring for a client who is dying.  However, keep the following guidelines in mind to help you make the client as comfortable as possible:

  • Diminished Senses.  Keep the room softly lighted and without glare.  H earing is usually the last sense to leave the body, so speak in a normal tone.  Tell them about any procedures that are being done or what is happening in the room.  Do not expect an answer.  Ask few questions.  Encourage family to speak to the client, but to avoid subjects that are disturbing.  Observe body language to anticipate a client’s needs.
  • Care of the Mouth.  Give mouth care frequently.  If the client is unconscious, give mouth care every two hours.  Apply lubricant, such as lip balm, to lips.
  • Skin Care.  Give bed baths and incontinence care as needed.  Bathe perspiring clients often.  Their skin should be kept clean and dry.  Sheets and clothes should be changed for their comfort.  Keep sheets wrinkle-free.  Skin care to prevent pressure sores is important.
  • Comfort.  Pain relief is very important.  Clients may not be able to communicate that they are in pain.  Observe your clients for signs of pain and report them.  Frequent changes of position, back massage, skin care, mouth care, and proper body alignment may help.  Body temperature usually increases.  Many clients are more comfortable with light covers.
  • Environment.  Display favorite objects and photographs where the client can easily see them. They may provide comfort.  Make sure the room is comfortable, appropriately lighted, and well ventilated.
  • Emotional and Spiritual Support.  Listening may be one of the most important things you can do for a client who is dying.  They may also need the quiet, reassuring and loving presence of another person.  Touch can be very important.  Holding your client’s hand as you sit quietly can be very comforting.  Some clients who are dying may also seek spiritual comfort from clergy.