Does place of death vary by deprivation for patients known to specialist palliative care services

Macfarlane, M. & Carduff, E. BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care. Published online:1 December 2016

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Objectives: Referral to, and usage of, specialist palliative care (SPC) services are not equitable and social deprivation may be a contributory factor in this. Deprivation may also affect the place of death of patients with cancer. No study, however, has investigated whether inequalities persist following referral to SPC services. This study investigates whether place of death varies by deprivation for patients known to SPC services.

Conclusions: This study suggests that even after referral to specialist palliative care services variation in place of death by deprivation persists. Greater deprivation is associated with increased likelihood of dying in hospital and decreased likelihood of dying in a hospice, although no difference was noted for home deaths.

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A different ending: End of life care review

CQC. Published online: 9 May 2016

People from certain groups in society sometimes experience poorer quality care at the end of their lives because providers do not always understand or fully consider their needs, according to A different ending: Addressing inequalities in end of life care”, a new review that has published.

a different ending

Image source: CQC

The report found:

  • People from certain groups in society are experiencing poorer quality care at the end of their lives than others because providers and commissioners do not always understand or fully consider their specific needs.
  • Some commissioners and providers might not be fulfilling their duties under the Equality Act 2010 as all public bodies have a legal duty to consider the needs of a range of equality groups when carrying out their day-to-day work.
  • Health and care staff are not always having conversations with people early enough about their end of life care. This means they don’t have the opportunity to make plans and choices with their loved-ones about how and where they would prefer to die.
  • We identified examples of good practice, but found that action is needed to make sure everyone has the same access to high quality, personalised care at the end of their lives, regardless of their diagnosis, age, ethnic background, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or social circumstances.

Read the full report here

Read the good practice case studies here

Minding the gap: access to palliative care and the homeless

Huynh, L. et al.  BMC Palliative Care 2015, 14:62 

Background

With an ever increasing number of individuals living with chronic and terminal illnesses, palliative care as an emerging field is poised for unprecedented expansion. Today’s rising recognition of its key role in patients’ illnesses has led to increased interest in access to palliative care. It is known that homelessness as a social determinant of health has been associated with decreased access to health resources in spite of poorer health outcomes and some would argue, higher need. This article aims to discuss the current state of affairs with regards to accessing palliative care for the homeless in Canada.

Discussion

Recent review of the literature reveals differential access to palliative care services and outcomes with differing socio-economic status (SES). Notably, individuals of lower SES and in particular, those who are homeless have poorer health outcomes in addition to poor access to quality palliative care. Current palliative care services are ill equipped to care for this vulnerable population and most programs are built upon an infrastructure that is prohibitive for the homeless to access its services. A preliminary review of existing Canadian programs in place to address this gap in access identified a paucity of sporadic palliative care programs across the country with a focus on homeless and vulnerably-housed individuals. It is apparent that there is no unified national strategy to address this gap in access.

Summary

The changing landscape of the Canadian population calls for an expansion of palliative care as a field and as many have put it, as a right. The right to access quality palliative and end of life care should not be confined to particular population groups. This article calls for the development of a unified national strategy to address this glaring gap in our healthcare provision and advocates for attention to and adoption of policy and processes that would support the homeless populations’ right to quality palliative care.

Read the full article here