A recent Commons Health Committee report says end-of-life care should be made available free of charge to everyone. It points to an “unacceptable variation” in standards of care and calls for better adherence to the wishes of people in the final days and weeks of their lives.
But it does so without addressing care home fees and, while accepting two thirds of people would opt to die at home, it seems to ignore the fact a care home is ‘home’ to a large percentage of the end-of-life population.
Around 500,000 people die each year in England and Wales. Over half of these people (53 per cent) die in hospital, which the report rightly says is unacceptable – people don’t want to live out their final days in NHS hospitals which are regularly not geared up to give people the dignity and care they and their loved ones deserve and should expect.
Stories of end-of-life patients ending up on general hospital wards because of a lack of palliative care beds is far too common.
Families are left traumatised watching their loved one going through an undignified and often painful death.
Tens of thousands of citizens across the country live in care homes. They live in their own rooms with their own belongings and have their family round them whenever they want.
In a care home they also get round-the-clock life time and end of life care – something that can never be provided at a person’s home without family involvement.
If a person lives out their life at Broomgrove Nursing Home they can be assured that, when the time comes, they will die with dignity, respect and be comfortable.
At the moment 18 per cent of people die in care homes, that’s only 3 per cent less than at home.
I have to take issue with the report’s classification of end-of-life-care which they view as people expected to die within 12 months.
Isn’t everyone in a care home near their end-of-life?
Jane Collins, chief executive of Marie Curie said: “The challenge for the next government is clear – there needs to be a dramatic improvement in access to high-quality care in the community, available for people early on in their illnesses so that they can live well and stay out of hospital for as long as possible.”
I hope the high-quality care people get easy access to includes care homes.