Care homes lag behind hospices on end-of-life care

Care homes perform less well than hospices but better than hospitals in delivering end-of-life care, according to the first national survey of bereaved people on the topic.

Image: Voisin/Phanie/Rex Features
Image: Voisin/Phanie/Rex Features

Care homes are lagging behind hospices in the quality of care they provide for people who are dying, according to the first national survey of bereaved people’s experiences of end-of-life care.

However, bereaved people had a more positive experience of care homes than hospitals, found the National Bereavement Survey 2011, which received responses from 22,292 people and was commissioned by the government to address gaps in data on the quality of end-of-life care.

It found that 45.8% of people rated as excellent the care received by their loved-one in a care home in the last three months of life, below the 77.7% of people who rated the quality of a final hospice admission as excellent. However, just 37.8% rated the quality of care in a final hospital admission before death as excellent.

The survey also found that 61.4% of bereaved people said their loved one was always treated with dignity in a care home, lower than the 87% rating for hospice doctors and 80% for hospice nurses, but above the 57% rating for hospital doctors and 48% for hospital nurses.

“The survey reveals a wide variation in the quality of care across the country,” said care services minister Paul Burstow. “These results will help health and social care to benchmark the care they deliver and learn from the best.”

Mithran Samuel is Community Care’s adults’ editor.

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