Review launched into improving choice for people in end-of-life care

Free social care critical for ensuring choice of care for people approaching death, says charity

Image: Voisin/Phanie/Rex Features

The government has launched a review into improving choice and quality of care for people approaching the end of life.

The review will be led by Claire Henry, chief executive of the National Council for Palliative Care, and a programme board of other experts in end-of-life care. It is due to report by next February.

The review is designed to address issues preventing people from being cared for and dying in their preferred place at the end of life.

Currently, the majority of people in England still die in hospital, despite 2012 research showing that two-thirds they would prefer to die at home.

The review was welcomed by Macmillan Cancer Support, who said that providing free social care at the end of life was critical to providing choice of care and place of death.

“The review is a fantastic opportunity to identify what needs to happen to ensure that all people have the right support in place to allow them to have the death that they want,” said Mike Hobday, the charity’s director of policy and research. “Improving access to 24/7 community nursing and providing free social care support for people who want to die at home are both crucial to making this happen.”

There is a postcode lottery in access to free end-of-life social care, according to research published last week that was commissioned by Macmillan and other charities.

The government is currently running eight pilots on reforming end-of-life care to test the idea of free social care and will make its decision on the basis of the results.

On being appoitned to lead the review, Henry said: “I am delighted to have been asked to chair a review into such an important issue. We only have one chance to get it right for people who are dying, but despite some excellent practice many people are not currently getting the care and support that is right for them.”

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