Palliative and end of life care affects us all, at all ages; the living, the dying and the bereaved.
More than half a million people are expected to 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. This gives us an opportunity to plan and consider people’s wishes and preferences for their end of life care and treatment.
Context and challenges
- The 2017 figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) – these were published in 2019 and are the latest stats available on ONS – show 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 (Clark et al: Palliative Medicine 2014, Vol 28(6): 474-79).
- Many people feel uncomfortable talking about their wishes for the end of their life. Yet not talking about it denies the person the opportunity to fully participate in discussions and decisions about their current and future care.
- 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.