Deciding where you want to be cared for
One of the important decisions that you may need to make if you know you’re not going to get better, is where you want to live and be cared for.
In 2008 the Department of Health published guidance about care for adults at the end of life. The End of Life Care Strategy states that adults in England who have an advanced, progressing illness should have:
- more choice about where they want to live and die
- involvement in discussions about their care
- their wishes respected
- access to high-quality services in all locations, whether at home, in a residential or nursing home, or in hospital.
You can download a copy of the guidance from the Department of Health website.
If you have family or friends who are able to look after you, they can have help from various people and organisations. Nurses who specialise in controlling symptoms and supporting people with cancer (also known as palliative care nurses), and specialist symptom control doctors can visit you at home. Your GP can arrange some of these services for you.
You have a right to live (and die) at home if you wish. However, if you’re no longer able to cope at home and have no family or close friends able to look after you, other services are available.
Some people move house to be near their family, but may find that they then have no contact with their own circle of friends, which can make them feel very isolated. It’s important to consider whether moving to be near relatives will be a good idea or whether it will be inconvenient for you.
Residential and nursing homesBack to top
Private residential and nursing homes can offer short-stay or long-stay care. Your GP, district nurse or social worker can arrange this for you, but it may take some time. A fee is charged for care in private nursing homes, although you can sometimes get this paid for you if you have little or no savings.
Lists of local registered care homes, and details of registered nursing homes, are available from your local social services department and your area health authority. You can get further information about finding a nursing home from Age UK, the Elderly Accommodation Counsel, and the Nursing Home Fees Agency.
Hospices are not just places where people go to die, although many people still think this is the case. They specialise in the control of pain and other symptoms, and in supporting the person with cancer and their family.
People can go into a hospice for a short time to have any pain or other symptoms controlled before going home again.
Many hospices are purpose-built in pleasant grounds and are designed to be attractive and comfortable. Many have kitchens, sitting rooms and accommodation for relatives. Activities are often provided for people who are well enough to take part. Hospices are smaller and generally quieter than hospitals.
Accommodation and care in a hospice is always free of charge. Some are set up by the NHS, and others are funded by charities. Sometimes there is a waiting list, but this is not usually longer than a few weeks. Many hospices also have nurses who go out to visit people in their own homes, and day care centres for people who are living at home.
You are always welcome to visit a hospice to help you decide whether you would like to be looked after there. You can find out more about your local hospice from your GP or by contacting the Hospice Information Service, provided by Help the Hospices. Age UK produce a range of leaflets about housing issues that you may find helpful.