The institutionalised ways we cope with dying do not align with how most people aspire to die. Most people want to die with family and friends nearby, cared for, free from pain, with medical support available when needed. Yet most people will die in hospitals and care homes, often cut off from friends and family, dependent on systems and procedures that feel impersonal, over which they have little control and which too often offer them little dignity. We spend large sums of taxpayer's money – at least £20 billion a year – on services that leave too many people feeling confused, frustrated and distressed too much of the time.
The UK should be able to provide people with better ways to die. The pamphlet argues for improvements to existing services: making end of life advance care plans the norm; training more in the medical profession in palliative care; and more greatly integrating the care services provided by the public, private and voluntary sectors. It also suggests radical innovations: a new infrastructure of home hospices, the creation of a compassionate care benefit and a properly trained volunteer support network providing palliative care – a perfect opportunity for the Big Society.
The challenge is to help people to achieve what is most important to them at the end of life. Dying for Change describes how that challenge can be overcome.