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One in five dying patients do not receive the treatment they want, research shows

A survey of patients' family and friends conducted by YouGov for charity Compassion in Dying reveals that one in five patients do not receive the treatment they want at the end of their lives

One fifth of patients nearing the end of their lives did not receive the treatment they would have wanted, according to a survey of friends and family published by the charity Compassion in Dying.

Nearly half of the 2,000 people surveyed for the YouGov poll said they felt their loved one had a bad death.

The research found that having end-of-life wishes recorded on their medical records can make a crucial difference in having the good death the dying person would want. Where patients wishes were recorded, they were 41% more likely to be judged by loved ones to have died well. Where such wishes were not recorded, loved ones were 53% more likely to feel that the patient received treatment they would not have wanted. Findings, published in the charitys report Plan Well, Die Well, also suggest that recording end-of-life wishes could reduce avoidable hospital admissions.

One fifth of patients nearing the end of their lives did not receive the treatment they would have wanted, according to a survey of friends and family published by the charity Compassion in Dying.

Nearly half of the 2,000 people surveyed for the YouGov poll said they felt their loved one had a bad death.

The research found that having end-of-life wishes recorded on their medical records can make a crucial difference in having the ‘good death’ the dying person would want. Where patients’ wishes were recorded, they were 41% more likely to be judged by loved ones to have died well. Where such wishes were not recorded, loved ones were 53% more likely to feel that the patient received treatment they would not have wanted. Findings, published in the charity’s report Plan Well, Die Well, also suggest that recording end-of-life wishes could reduce avoidable hospital admissions.

The report makes a number of recommendations to address the significant barriers to enabling person-centred end-of-life care, including the lack of a formal centralised system for recording end-of-life wishes, lack of awareness among healthcare professionals and lack of support to help people complete advance planning documents.

Compassion in Dying director of policy Davina Hehir said: ‘It is incredibly shocking that so many people say that their dying friend or relative received medical treatment that they did not want.

‘This research demonstrates that recording your wishes in advance does, however, make it significantly more likely you’ll have a good death – one where you receive the treatment that is right for you. We therefore encourage everyone to ensure they access the free resources we have made available to make their wishes not only known, but legally binding.'

Analysis of thousands of enquiries to Compassion in Dying’s information service, which offers free support to more than 12,000 people to complete advance care planning documents, has shown the value of providing timely and accurate support for end-of-life planning. More than three quarters of people contacting the service went on to make an advance decision [about their care] and 23% made a lasting power of attorney for health and welfare. More than two-thirds of service users discussed their wishes with the doctor and had their advance decision stored with their medical records.

 

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