A new ranking of the quality of end of life care services around the world places the UK in the first place, but there is still much more for us to do, writes Melanie Hodson, Hospice UK’s Head of Information Support.
The Cross Country Comparison of Expert Assessments of the Quality of Death and Dying 2021 ranked 81 countries (81% of the world’s population) on how effectively their health systems provide for the physical and mental wellbeing of their patients at the end of life.
The research team surveyed more than 1,200 caregivers from several countries to identify what is most important to patients at the end of life. They also asked 181 palliative care experts across the globe to grade their countries’ health systems on 13 weighted factors that people most often listed, including proper management of pain and comfort, being treated kindly, and contact with friends and family
Alongside the UK, Ireland, Taiwan, Australia, South Korea and Costa Rica also earned ‘A’ grades. Despite finishing at the top of this new ranking, the UK’s rating allows no room for complacency. The access to expert palliative and end of life care within the country is still not acceptable – as many as 1 in 4 people who could benefit from this care, do not receive appropriate support.
We estimate that more than 66,000 people have died at home without the right end of life care in place since the start of the pandemic. That’s tens of thousands of families who fear that the death of their loved ones wasn’t as peaceful as possible.
Hospice UK is working in support of better and more equitable end of life care.
To better understand what people need in their area and to help ensure that services are inclusive, we continue to develop and improve PopNAT, our population needs assessment tool, that maps the need for palliative and end of life care across the UK and includes data on areas such as ethnicity and levels of deprivation.
Our work on promoting equality highlights ways forward, with deep-dive reports on end of life care for under-represented groups and communities.
These are just some of the ways we are seeking to ensure that we achieve our vision that everyone, no matter who they are, where they are or why they are ill, should receive the best possible care at the end of their life.
Melanie Hodson, Hospice UK’s Head of Information Support.