AMBER care bundle when recovery is uncertain

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, hospital treatments do not give the results that we hope for and a person's recovery might be uncertain. When we are concerned about this, we:

  • monitor you every day 
  • keep you up to date with any changes to your condition or treatment
  • talk to you about how and where you'd like to be cared for if you do not get better
  • update your family, carers or friends regularly, with your permission

This set of actions is called the AMBER care bundle.

Uncertain recovery

This short film explains more about what we might do if someone is seriously unwell and we're not sure if they will get better. This is called uncertain recovery.

This short film talks about planning ahead and what we might do if someone is seriously unwell and we are not sure if they will get better in spite of treatment. We call this uncertain recovery.

There are times when we may give a treatment to a person and we don't know if it will work. This may happen when a person has been living with an illness or a condition for a while and then get something sudden, like an infection. The person may be so sick that they could die, but they could also respond to the treatment.

All treatments are regularly monitored and reviewed and if it becomes clear that a treatment isn't working or that it's a burden for a person, then it might be stopped.

If you are facing uncertain recovery, it's really important to think about how and where you would like to be cared for and to share this with those close to you and the healthcare team. If you want more information, please ask those looking after you.

Please talk to your healthcare team if you would like more information.

How the AMBER care bundle can help

The AMBER care bundle aims to improve the quality of care for people whose recovery is uncertain and who may be approaching the end of their life.

The AMBER care bundle means that we can:

  • respond quickly to changes in your condition by monitoring you more regularly
  • help you to be involved with decisions by keeping you up to date
  • talk to you and your family about your treatment options
  • understand your wishes about how and where you'd like to be cared for if you do not get better
  • make sure that all staff know about your condition, so they can work together to give you the best care and support

Planning your treatment and care

It's important to us that we can talk with you and your family about your wishes and make plans. There are usually 4 steps to this.

  1. We have a conversation with you and your family to explain our concerns about your condition and understand your preferences and wishes.
  2. We decide together how you will be cared for if your condition gets worse.
  3. We make and record a medical plan.
  4. We agree on the plans about your treatment and care with all of the medical team looking after you.

Read more about advance treatment planning.

More information for health professionals

The AMBER care bundle is one of the tools mentioned in the NICE guidance on end of life care for adults: service delivery. This guidance covers situations where there is medical uncertainty. The aim is to make sure that patients and their carers are involved as much as they want in shared decision making.

If you are a health professional and would like more information about the AMBER care bundle and the stages of the programme, please email: [email protected] or [email protected]

Resource number: 3577/VER4
Last reviewed: August 2022
Next review: August 2025

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