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One in seven bereaved people say loved one's nutrition needs not met

The National Survey of Bereaved People showed that 13% of respondents disagreed that their loved one's nutrition needs were met in the final two days of life.

Around one in seven bereaved people do not believe their loved one had their nutrition or hydration needs met in the last two days of life, a nationwide survey reveals.

More than 21,000 relatives and friends of people who died between January and April 2014 completed the National Survey of Bereaved People.

The survey, which asked about the care given in the last three months of life, included a series of questions on the last two days of life for the first time.

The new questions were introduced following the withdrawal of the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) last year.

The LCP, a framework for end of life care, was criticised by relatives who said fluids and nutrition had been withdrawn from their family member without their knowledge.

Of those who responded to the survey, 75% felt nutritional needs were met in the last two days.

Around one in seven bereaved people do not believe their loved one had their nutrition or hydration needs met in the last two days of life, a nationwide survey reveals. 

More than 21,000 relatives and friends of people who died between January and April 2014 completed the National Survey of Bereaved People.

The survey, which asked about the care given in the last three months of life, included a series of questions on the last two days of life for the first time.

The new questions were introduced following the withdrawal of the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) last year.

The LCP, a framework for end of life care, was criticised by relatives who said fluids and nutrition had been withdrawn from their family member without their knowledge. 

Of those who responded to the survey, 75% felt nutritional needs were met in the last two days. 

However, 13% disagreed that patients’ nutrition needs were met.

Another 11.9% neither agreed nor disagreed. 

More than one in ten (11%) disagreed that support to drink or receive fluid was provided in the final two days, compared with 79% who agreed and 10.1% who neither agreed nor disagreed.

RCN fellow Sandra Campbell, who helped to develop an RCN guidance on hydration and nutrition in end of life care which was launched last month, said: ‘The fact you get issues with people being deprived of food and fluids seems to me more to do with a lack of communication or ineffective communication. 

‘Our ability to communicate with families what the normal dying process is influences how they perceive the care that is delivered. 

‘The reality is that for most people, when dying a normal death, the need for food and fluid has gone.’ 

The annual survey by the Office for National Statistics was carried out for NHS England. 

Visit tinyurl.com/bereavedsurvey for the full survey results.

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