In A Good Place to die: A briefing for Dying Matters Awareness Week 2021

10 May 2021
Death, dying and bereavement are more prominent in the public consciousness than for a generation. The deaths of tens of thousands of people from COVID-19 has meant that we are collectively and individually reckoning with loss on a daily basis, on news websites, on social media, and on TV and radio bulletins.
While we are all understandably eager to move on and get back to ‘normal’, there is likely to be a lasting impact on how we view and approach the final stages of life. Indeed, we believe we have a responsibility to ensure the stories of families who have been bereaved are heard, listened to, and learned from.
 
This week, to mark Dying Matters Awareness Week, we have published a short policy briefing looking at one important trend – where people are dying, how this is changing, and in particular, a significant increase during the pandemic in people dying in their own homes. 
 
We firmly believe there is no ‘right or wrong’ place to die; it will be different for everyone. We believe that the health and social care system should ensure that people are ‘in a good place’ wherever they are at their death.
 
The briefing examines some well-known and lesser known trends in public attitudes to and understanding of place of death, and how these have played out during the pandemic. 
 
 
What do we know about people's experiences at the end of life?
 
It’s well-known and understandable, for example, that many people express a preference to die at home – but what’s arguably less well understood is what motivates those preferences, and whether people feel they have the choice, control and knowledge to enact them. What are the qualities people associate with different settings, and how can we ensure that people feel confident that the positive qualities – comfort, company, good quality care – can be delivered in any location?
 
The pandemic has led to a surge in the number of deaths in private homes, but we know little of people’s lived experience of what this has been like. This raises important questions and challenges for the health and social care sector as it emerges from the pandemic and plans for the future.
 
Digging into these attitudes, beliefs and experiences is important if as a society we are to try to learn from the experience of the pandemic. Our briefing is only a start, and must now be built on by concerted efforts to listen to people’s stories. 
 
Ultimately, stories and experiences are what Dying Matters is about – getting people talking, listening and understanding so that we can ensure that people are in a good place when they die – physically, emotionally and with the right care.
 
 
How you can get involved in Dying Matters Awareness Week 
 
Tell your story - our research has found that we know so little about people's experiences at the end of their lives, nor for those close to them. This is why we're asking people to share their #DMAW21 story on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
 
 

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