NURSES and doctors who care for dying people have since rejected the notion that patients are just bodies affected by diseases that need treatment.

Instead, they recognise patients are human beings first with a mind, body, spirit and experience emotions.

These attributes are what make us human beings and terminal disease ‘attacks’ these very core parts, resulting in physical and psychological pain and distress.

Terminal illness makes people lose control of their ‘everydayness’ and worry about their future existential capabilities.

These fears and sadness are real - therefore, health professionals’ focus is on relieving mental suffering to enhance quality of life.

Indeed, quality of life is subjective and no one solution would be a panacea, so different approaches should be used to ensure pain-free state and comfort in the remaining months, weeks, days or hours of life.

While teaching abroad in Nairobi, Kenya, I came across this saying: ”Put life into their days and not days into their life”.

The focus is on dying peoples’ preferences to maximise/enhance their quality of life.

Kenyans do not believe adding days (quantity) into life is progressive where there is no quality of life left.

We could argue that we should always ensure that patients continue to live and not exist, something Dame Cicely Saunders succinctly captured: “You matter because you are you. You matter to the last moment of your life and we will do all we can, not only to help you die peacefully but also to live until you die”.

Enhancing quality of life rejects the needless prolongation of life through futile treatments but instead gives palliative care free from pain.

Uncontrolled pain/suffering may lead some to seek to end their lives early, which takes us into the realm of assisted dying – a sensitive topic, and not yet legalised in the UK.

We can all strive to provide the best available care to ensure everyone dies with dignity.