Doctors say many people die in hospital or hospices but don’t always need to be in a medical setting. They believe supporting people to live their final days at home could also help relatives grieve and ease society’s fear of death.
GPs told a meeting of the Sheffield health and wellbeing board that they wanted to ensure everyone could die with dignity in a place of their choice.
Dr Eleanor Rutter said: “We are talking about the end of life, not end of life care. That’s undoubtably important but not the whole story.
“In the last 50 years medical expertise in avoiding end of life and managing symptioms have improved but the downside is we have put it into a medical setting.
“Sometimes we are seeking a medical solution to a spiritual and emotional process. There’s nothing more normal but people have a lot of fear because they don’t experience it. If we bring it back into homes and communities, people feel confident to manage it.”
Dr Rutter said lots of individuals and organisations were collecting data but it needed studying.
“We are not equipped to answer some really important questions, such as what does a good death look like?
“A good death is different for everybody and we need to understand more about it. A lot of experience is from the people involved in the berevement.
“Hospitals are important but we want to know what experience people are having. Berevement has a wider impact on families, friends and communities.”
Coun Jackie Drayton said some older people had a fear of dying in the Northern General Hospital.
“When I first moved to Sheffield some of my older friends wouldn’t go into the Northern as it used to be the workhouse and they used to say if I go in there, I will never come out. It’s important to people about where care takes place.
“It’s great to hear about focusing on the people but it’s also important to focus on those left behind.
“It’s not just berevement but the mental health impact. It’s having a new life and adjusting, especially if you have been living with someone for 50 years so it’s very difficult.”