The Westminster Government published the End of Life Care Strategy in July 2008. It promotes high quality care for all adults at the end of life in England by providing people with more choice about where they would like to live and die. Similar strategies for the end of life have also been developed in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
About 500,000 people die in England every year, and it is predicted that this will rise to 590,000 within the next 20 years. The majority of deaths occur in adults over 65 years old, and following a period of chronic illness related to conditions such as heart disease, stroke, liver disease, renal disease, diabetes, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, neurological diseases and dementia.
The Department of Health End of Life Care Strategy says there are many challenges to be overcome to ensure that everyone attains a good death irrespective of their background.
Everybody deserves a good death and this is more likely to be achieved by talking about it early on. Although every individual may have a different idea about what would, for them, constitute „a good death‟, for many this would involve:
Dying Matters is a broad based coalition set up by the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC) to raise public awareness of dying, death and bereavement, to support the implementation of the Government‟s End of Life Care Strategy.
The Dying Matters Coalition mission is to promote awareness and support changing knowledge, attitudes and behaviours towards dying, death and bereavement, and through this to make a 'good death' the norm.
Everybody - whatever their age or state of health – needs to talk about their wishes towards the end of life with their friends, families and loved ones. The earlier we talk about it the easier it is emotionally and practically for everyone.
The Dying Matters Coalition has over 14,000 members with an interest in supporting changing knowledge, attitudes and behaviours towards dying, death and bereavement. This includes organisations from across the NHS and the voluntary and independent health and care sectors, including hospices, care homes, charities supporting old people, children and bereavement, from social care and housing sectors, from a wide range of faith organisations, community organisations, schools and colleges, academic bodies, trade unions, the legal profession and from the funeral sector.
In the checklist below are some of the areas that people can leave too late to discuss. Some of these may be more important to you than others. If you want to know more about any of these areas, go to the Dying Matters website
The majority of people (around 70%) would prefer to die at home, but around 60% die in hospital – in many cases unnecessarily.
While more than 70% of people report feeling confident about planning for their end of life, less than a third (29%) of people have actually discussed their wishes around dying.