More people able to die at home due to community specialist palliative care

Date: 
15 August 2012
Specialist palliative care community services are leading to more people being able to die at home, according to a major new report out today by the National Council for Palliative Care and the National End of Life Care Intelligence Network.

Latest figures from the new 2010/11 Minimum Data Set for Specialist Palliative Care Services (MDS) report show that a third of those receiving specialist palliative care in 2010/11 died at home, compared with just one in five nationally. This is the third successive year that the proportion of deaths at home has increased for people using community specialist palliative care services.

The MDS report also finds that nearly half (45%) of the people referred to a specialist palliative care in-patient service are discharged (42%) to their home, dispelling the myth that people only go into a hospice to die.

Continued progress has also been made in opening up specialist palliative care services to non-cancer patients, although there remains a long way to go. Nearly a fifth (17%) of people using specialist palliative care services now have a primary diagnosis other than cancer. This compares to 5% in 2000 and 12% in 2008. In contrast, cancer accounts for just over a quarter (28%) of all deaths in the UK.

Speaking today Eve Richardson, Chief Executive of the National Council for Palliative Care said:

“It’s really encouraging that specialist palliative care services are helping more people to get their wishes met by being able to die at home but there is still a long way to go. With over half a million people dying each year it’s essential that end of life care remains a priority against a backdrop of major health and social care reforms and that commissioners ensure that high quality end of life services are available in all settings for all those who need them.

Claire Henry, Director of the National End of Life Care Programme added:

“We know that the majority of people want to die in their own homes and it’s encouraging to see the vital contribution of specialist palliative care services in making this happen. Every person should receive the highest quality care when they are dying, irrespective of which services they have access to, their diagnosis or where they live. Commissioners and providers should take action and look at ways of reducing variations in end of life care.”

2010/11 Minimum Data Set for Specialist Palliative Care Services (MDS) is published by the National Council for Palliative Care and the National End of Life Care Intelligence Network. It is available free of charge electronically to NCPC subscribers. For more information email library@ncpc.org.uk.

Background information about the MDS can be found here.

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