The future of end of life care
Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, Vice-Chair of the APPG on Cancer, chaired a breakout session to discuss the future of individual care preferences for patients at the end of their lives and how community care can be improved.
Delegates attending the session also heard speeches and presentations from Lara Carmona, Policy Manager from Marie Curie; Marcus Beale, the son of a Marie Curie Patient; and Catherine Le Roy, a Marie Curie nurse.
Lara Carmona, Policy Manager from Marie Curie, presents at the breakout session.
It was revealed during the session that 65% of people would prefer to die at home but currently only 18% are able to do so. There are also significant variations between local authorities in terms of numbers of people who are given the support to die in the place of their choosing.
Delegates debated what a ‘good death’ looks like and it was broadly agreed that good pain management, excellent information, greater choice and open and honest conversations are the key features that allow patients to have as much control as possible over their care at the end of their life.
It was agreed that given the financial constraints on the NHS, and the Government’s health reforms, improvements in all aspects of cancer care, including end of life services, will be a challenge to deliver. However, acute hospital admission resulting from the poor management of care for terminally ill patients are often unnecessary and very costly.
The National Audit Office’s End of Life Care report estimated that £104m could be saved by reducing the number of cancer patients admitted as an emergency by 10%.
What needs to happen next?
Advanced care planning services need to be in place for every terminally ill cancer patient to ensure their care is coordinated and seamless.
Patients nearing the end of life need to be given information and support to make choices about their care. Flexibility should be built into the process so that patients have the option of changing their minds about their care if their circumstances change.
Round-the-clock community nursing services should be made available to every patient at the end of life so that they are able to die at home if they wish to do so.
Support services should be made available for the families and carers of terminally ill patients.