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Class divisions affecting choice of palliative care

A recent major NHS study by Public Health England has shown that class divisions affect people’s access to the type of palliative care they desire. The research showed that those who are married are more likely to have the option of spending their final days at home, surrounded by their families, whilst those who are single or divorced are more likely to die in hospital.

The report also showed that those living in well-off parts of the country were more likely to be able to choose to pass away peacefully at home. Whilst the majority of people in the UK die in hospital, the last few years has seen a rise in the number dying at home or in a residential care home, with figures rising from 38% in 2008 to 44% in 2012.

With annual deaths set to increase to almost 590,000 a year by 2030 (that’s a rise of 17 per cent), now is the time for changes to be made. Whilst 63% of people say they would prefer receive palliative care at home, currently only 44% of people actually do, and this figure includes those who spend the end of their lives in care homes. It’s clear from the report that changes to health and home care services are needed, if every individual is to have the opportunity to receive their preferred type of palliative care.

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