3 Jul, 12 | by BMJ Group
Today saw the publication of the results from the UK’s first National Bereavement Survey. The questionnaire, which was administered in November 2011, aimed to establish what the standard of end-of-life care was, as seen through the eyes of people who had lost a loved-one.
The responses of over 22,000 people were collated and the results highlight geographical disparities in perceived quality of care. Residents of Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset gave the highest ratings for end-of-life care, whilst the quality of care in Bedfordshire and Luton was considered the worst.
Overall, 75% of respondents rated the quality of care as good or better. People were more likely to rate the quality of care as outstanding if their loved-one died in a hospice or at home as opposed to in a hospital. In fact, hospice care was considered the best setting for end-of-life care, with 92% of respondents who had experienced hospice care rating it as good or better.
There was a large disparity between the numbers of people reporting ‘complete pain relief’ according to setting, with 62% of hospice deaths reporting this but only 17% of home deaths.
Care quality for people who died of cancer was more likely to be perceived as outstanding than care for people who died from cardiovascular disease – indicating that there are ongoing problems with integrating palliative care services into cardiovascular disease management.
Only 44% of respondents reported that the person had expressed a wish about where they would like to die. This is at odds with other surveys which have suggested that the majority of people would like to die at home.
The report highlights several causes for concern in terms of the provision of end-of-life care in the UK. Most notably, it appears that people who die at home are still not receiving adequate pain relief, that people dying from non-cancer disease continue to be neglected by the end-of-life care services and that the wishes of people who are dying are not being adequately communicated to their loved ones.