Dignity in Dying supports more care and more choice - we believe that good quality patient centred end-of-life care should not be treated as an optional extra but as a basic right for all.
Dying people have complex needs and research has demonstrated that while some patients receive excellent care, many do not. Dissatisfaction seems to be particularly high with end-of-life care delivered in hospitals - in 2007 the Healthcare Commission discovered that 54% of all complaints in acute hospitals related to end-of-life care. Furthermore, people are not dying in their place of preference. The majority of people would like to die at home but under the current system only a minority are able to exercise this choice.
Dignity in Dying believes that an integrated approach to end-of-life care which utilises best practice will lead to increased support for patients and better patient choice.
Dignity in Dying's vision for end-of-life care:
- All terminally ill people will have access to good quality end-of-life care regardless of their diagnosis, gender, age, class, or where they live, or any other factor.
- Everyone will have the opportunity to create an End-of-Life Care Plan that sets out their needs and wishes at the end of life, with informed choice ensured by the universal availability of good, impartial advice services.
- Health professionals would have a duty to carefully consider a person's wishes as set out in the Care Plan, such as their preferred place of care at the end of life and decisions regarding treatment.
- A health and social care workforce that is well trained in end-of-life issues and able to recognise and support the emotional, psychological and spiritual needs of patients and their families.
- Carers of terminally ill people would receive more support - a Carers Benefit would be introduced for people who provide 35 or more hours of care per week regardless of age; there would be legal protection against employment discrimination for those carrying out a caring role; and there would be better access to respite care for anyone who needs it.
- There would be a sensible acknowledgement from health care professionals and decision-makers that palliative cannot meet the needs of all dying patients. No amount of good palliative care can address some patient's concerns regarding their loss of autonomy, loss of dignity and loss of control. Therefore, patient choice should include the right of terminally ill adults, within strict safeguards, to have the option of an assisted death.
- Bereaved people would have easy access to services such as first point of call assistance, legal and financial advice and referral to counselling services if requested.