Coalition of charities warns that end of life care is ‘on the brink’

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    NLH Admin
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    North London Hospice

A new report highlighting a range of widespread failures in care for dying people warns the government to take action and improve end of life care.

On the Brink: The Future of End of Life Care, reveals that some people at the end of life are unable to get access to social care for help with everyday tasks such as washing and changing clothes, and many families are being left without professional advice on how to care for their dying relative. These factors can result in people being admitted to hospital as an emergency.

The report says that a lack of support for people at home is putting extra pressure on an already overstretched NHS, with people dying in hospital spending an average of 13 days there. This means that people who die in hospital collectively could spend 2.9 million days in a hospital bed at the very end of their lives each year.

The report, compiled by a coalition of charities including Hospice UK –the umbrella organisation championing for hospices, argues that shifting care out of hospitals will be better for people at the end of life and more cost effective, but warns that the right support needs to be in place at home and in other settings to enable this to happen.

Responding to the report Pam McClinton, Chief Executive, North London Hospice, said: “Our vision is that everyone in our diverse community affected by potentially life threatening illness has equal access to the services and support they need to optimise their quality of life. People at end of life should be given the choice of where they would like to be cared for during their final days. Through our partnership with Macmillan Cancer Care we are able to offer a Specialist Care at Home service* that furthermore enables those patients to make that choice.”

Julie’s husband Paul was cared for at home by North London Hospice’s Specialist Care at Home service. Julie said: ”Thanks to our hospice community nurse Paul was able to have his wish realised of having a painless peaceful death at home surrounded by his family. Having access to Hospice care at home helped us cope with a very painful and difficult time in our lives and most importantly ensured that Paul passed away pain free and peaceful.”

The charities, including Macmillan Cancer Support, Hospice UK, Sue Ryder and Marie Curie, are urging the government to adopt the recommendations of the landmark independent review of choice at the end of life, which was published a year ago today. Recommendations in the review include access to 24/7 community nursing and a record of a person’s preferences for care at the end of life.

For more information about this go to: http://endoflifecampaign.org/

*About the Macmillan Specialist Care at Home: It is a partnership approach to providing palliative care in the community. It’s based on the successful Midhurst Macmillan Specialist Palliative Care Service which began in 2006.

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