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Family carers may not welcome deaths at home

Compiled by Vari Drennan, professor of healthcare and policy research, Kingston University, London and St George’s University of London

Health service polices throughout the UK are looking to support people wishing to die at home. This qualitative study conducted in North Wales explored the experience of caring for the dying at home from the perspective of family carers and healthcare professionals (HCPs).

They interviewed 15 bereaved family carers and 13 HCPs who were nominated by the family carers.

Three main themes were identified. The first was that being at home provided a sense of normality which contributed to a good death for the person. However, for the family carer the normality of their home was disrupted in many ways.

The second theme was the coexistence of differing and at times conflicting needs of the dying person and their family carer. Examples were given of the dying persons refusal of HCP help that then fell to a family carer to provide.

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Health service polices throughout the UK are looking to support people wishing to die at home. This qualitative study conducted in North Wales explored the experience of caring for the dying at home from the perspective of family carers and healthcare professionals (HCPs). 


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They interviewed 15 bereaved family carers and 13 HCPs who were nominated by the family carers.

Three main themes were identified. The first was that being at home provided a sense of normality which contributed to a ‘good’ death for the person. However, for the family carer the normality of their home was disrupted in many ways.

The second theme was the coexistence of differing and at times conflicting needs of the dying person and their family carer. Examples were given of the dying person’s refusal of HCP help that then fell to a family carer to provide.

The last theme was the challenge perceived by HCPs in meeting the differing and sometimes conflicting needs of the dying person and the family carer. The authors suggest that the ability to manage these conflicting needs influenced whether carers perceived the home setting as the best place for the person to die.


Pottle J, Hiscock J, Neal RD et al (2017) Dying at home of cancer: whose needs are being met? The experience of family carers and healthcare professionals (a multiperspective qualitative study). BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care. pii: bmjspcare-2016-001145. doi: 10.1136/bmjspcare-2016-001145

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