Public willing to give pain relief to dying friends
The majority of people would be willing to offer practical help to friends or neighbours dealing with death, dying and bereavement.
This is the findings of new Dying Matters research from the National Council of Palliative Care (NCPC).
Dying Matters research found that 39% of British adults say they would feel comfortable giving a pain-relief injection to someone who was dying and wanted to stay home, after receiving some training and with no additional support. This rises to 61% with doctor or nurse supervision the first few times.
The survey also revealed that only 16% think caring for the dying is only a matter for professional health and social care workers, with 74% saying they would be willing to offer practical help and support of others.
However, only 16% agreed that there is currently enough support for people dealing with death dying and bereavement, and 78% of British adults think that caring for someone dying at home would be easier if family, friends and neighbours offered practical help.
“When you are caring for someone who wants to be at home when they die, small things can make a huge difference,” says Claire Henry, chief executive of Dying Matters Coalition and NCPC. “We know that an offer to walk the dog, mow the lawn or give someone a lift can make caring for a loved one as they die so much easier. This survey shows that people are willing to do more than that, and are even willing to get involved in providing pain relief, if they are given training and support. It is always hard to lose someone close to us, but dying in the familiar surroundings of home can make it less upsetting for everyone. A combination of professional medical and social care, services like hospice at home, and people’s willingness to help can provide the end-of-life care we all need, as we get once chance to get this right.”
Dying Matters is calling for a new approach to supporting end-of-life care that takes people’s willingness to help into account.
Ms Henry added: “Dying, death and bereavement are everybody’s business. With numbers of people dying each year predicted to grow by nearly 15% over the next 18 years, we need a new approach which doesn’t just rely solely on health and care services but recognises and empowers carers and communities to provide the care they want to. We can all do something to help, and shouldn’t be worried about asking: ‘What can I do?’”
Responding to the new research, Amanda Cheesley, Royal College of Nursing (RCN) professional lead for long-term conditions and end-of-life care, said: “With major staff shortages in community care, far too many people experience delays in receiving the care and support they need to manage their symptoms, and many have to die in hospital rather than in the comfort of their own home.
“It’s very positive that the public are willing to get involved and help not only family members but also friends and neighbours. There are many ways they can support patients to die in their own home and nursing staff are able to train people in appropriate tasks.
“However, this must never become a substitute for care from trained nursing professionals, and must always be closely monitored to make sure both the patient and the caregiver are safe. We still need more investment in community nursing so that all those who want to die at home with their families can do so.”
The Dying Matters opinion poll was undertaken by ComRes in April 2017.
author: Jo Carlow, OnMedica News