Dying for Change
by Sophie McKay
Half a million people die in the UK every year. But there is a troubling discrepancy between how people die and how they wish to die. For an event so significant it lacks (for most people) choice.
The new Demos pamphlet, Dying for Change, looks at how people die in modern Britain. The vast majority (60 per cent) die in hospital. Our research shows this is not what most people want. Most people would prefer to die at home, surrounded by their families and familiar possessions. By 2030 only 1 in 10 people will die at home.
The research also estimates that £500m (equating to a total of 2.5 per cent) of the NHS budget for end of life care could be channelled into providing care that allows individuals to die at home or within the community,with the support they need, instead of hospital. Not only does this provide people with an option they prefer and a more dignified death, it also more than finances itself over the course of a decade.
The research suggests that this money could be spent on a variety of measures to improve the quality of end of life care that uses Big Society to its full potential. These include creation of new places to die; strengthening family support care networks; creation of community nursing and telephone medical help-lines; spreading the use of personal budgets to palliative care and encouraging people to talk more openly about death.
Dying for Change shows that difficult as death may be, there are still choices that should and can be made available to those nearing the end of their lives.