That period of time prior to death, but the duration can never be precisely defined in advance.
Recognizing and identifying those people who are at risk of dying at some point in the year ahead enables the health and social systems to respond to the deteriorating person and their families/carers in a holistic and comprehensive way.
Although prognostication is inherently difficult, being better able to predict when people are reaching the end-of-life phase, whatever their diagnosis, makes it more likely that they receive well-coordinated, high quality care. This is more about the health care system meeting needs than giving defined timescales. The focus is on anticipating the needs of the person and families/carers so that the right care can be provided at the right time. This is more important than working out the exact time remaining, and leads to better proactive care in alignment with preferences.
The end-of-life period is triggered by a transition in the place of care, levels of care, and/or goals of care. The major transition to the end-of-life period is in changing the focus on the person from curative and restorative care, which aims to extend the quantity of life, to palliative care, which aims to improve the quality of life.
Ministry of Health. 2015. New Zealand Palliative Care Glossary. Wellington: Ministry of Health.