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Palliat Med. 2004 Jul;18(5):460-7.

Older people's views about home as a place of care at the end of life.

Author information

1
Sheffield Institute for Studies on Ageing, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK. m.gott@sheffield.ac.uk

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To explore the attitudes of older people towards home as a place of care when dying.

DESIGN:

A two-phase qualitative study using focus groups and semi-structured interviews.

PARTICIPANTS:

Eight focus group discussions were held with 32 participants recruited from six purposively selected community groups representing older people in Sheffield, UK. A further 16 men and 29 women participated in semi-structured interviews.

RESULTS:

Participants identified that home was more than a physical location, representing familiarity, comfort and the presence of loved ones. While participants anticipated that home would be their ideal place of care during dying, practical and moral problems associated with it were recognised by many. Some had no informal carer. Others did not want to be a 'burden' to family and friends, or were worried about these witnessing their suffering. Those who had children did not wish them to deliver care that was unduly intimate. Concerns were expressed about the quality of care that could be delivered at home, particularly in relation to accommodating health technologies and providing adequate symptom relief. Worries were also expressed about those living in poor material circumstances. Mixed views were expressed about the presence of professional carers within the home. Although they were seen to provide much needed support for the informal carer, the presence of 'strangers' was regarded by some as intrusive and compromising the ideal of 'home'.

DISCUSSION:

Older people perceive factors they associate with 'home' as crucial to a good death, most notably presence of friends and family, but many anticipate that they would prefer to be cared for elsewhere when dying. These findings run counter to assumptions that the medicalised, institutional death cannot be a 'good death'. It is important that dying in hospital is not demonized, but rather efforts made to examine how institutional deaths can take on a more meaningful quality.

PMID:
15332424
DOI:
10.1191/0269216304pm889oa
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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