End of life care affects us all, at all ages; the living, the dying and the bereaved. Reports and investigations too frequently identify poor or inconsistent care and we have a responsibility to do better. More than half a million people die each year, and many live with a life expectancy of less than a year at any one time. This is set to increase with a growing older population, so more people are expected to die at an older age.
Context and challenges
- The 2017 figures from Office of National Statistics is that of the deaths registered in 2017, 78% were aged 70 years or above, and 22% were aged 90 years or above.
- A prospective cohort study has shown that over a quarter of hospital inpatients will have died within 12 months.
- It is estimated that improved recognition of palliative care needs and services outside hospital, could improve care and reduce hospital costs by £180 million per year.
- Nobody likes talking about death and dying. Yet not talking about it denies the person the opportunity to fully participate in discussions and decisions about their current and future care.
- Death is often seen as a failure of treatment rather than being recognised as an inevitable part of life.
- Dying, death and bereavement are not solely health and social care events; they affect every aspect of people’s lives and experience, and that of the people close to them.