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End of life care: We need to see funding increased so more people can die at home

With a minister calling for more elderly to be supported in their wish to die at home at a House of Lords debate into end of life care, Tracie Brennan reflects on the work and funding needed to make it happen... 
Hospice at Home team
Tracie Brennan and Julie White from the Hospice at Home teamManaging a proactive and truly inspiring Hospice at Home team brings its rewards. Our feedback here at Saint Francis Hospice shows us that we are providing a much needed service to those people who choose to remain at home at the end of their lives. 

We support these people with our team of Senior Staff Nurses and Health Care Assistants who are all highly trained in end of life care. They are well able to recognise signs and symptoms of dying and prioritise support as needed. Working in partnership, sharing information and education with all the other services that are helping to keep these people in their own homes takes a massive amount of co-ordination. However, by receiving comments from bereaved relatives such as the one below, we can be confident that we are doing it right.

"We as a family were very impressed by the excellent service we had.  It was nothing short of excellent.  The co-ordination between the District Nurses, Marie Curie Nurses and Hospice at Home was remarkable."  

With the approximate amount of 30% funding from the NHS and massive amount of 70% raised by our hard working fundraising team from our supporters, we strive to enable people to stay at home amongst their loved ones at end of life if that is their choice.  Support from charitable services such as hospices is relied upon heavily for end of life care at home.  

However, realistically we need to have funding increased to enable this to be maintained. Tracie Brennan and Julie White from the Hospice at Home team As per yesterday's debate in the House of Lords, Lord Prior of Brampton said it was "preferable for dying patients to pass away in the own home with their loved ones rather than alone in hospital".  He has called for more to be done to make sure that those people choosing to spend their dying days at home can be sure of the finest palliative care from the NHS.  The debate continued about palliative care amid concerns that the NHS is failing to provide sufficient end of life care for those who choose to die at home.  We know this is a reality and we continue to promote the need for increased community services to enable choice to be met - for example increased community nurses with end of life education, domiciliary carers with sufficient end of life training, increased capacity for overnight support so that family/carers can have sufficient rest.  We know from our work that it can be highly stressful and exhausting looking after a loved one at home.

The debate went on to describe a relative of Lord Wills, a Labour peer, who had died at home without palliative care services involved as this had been poorly co-ordinated between the NHS and charitable services.   

Fingers crossed now that this debate has highlighted yet again the need for more funds committed by the government to provide end of life care - especially in this ageing population - as the surest thing in life is that we are all going to need this in some form or other.