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Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Care homes projected to become the most common place of death by 2040

Written by Jane Kirby

Care homes could overtake hospitals as most common place to die, according to new research.

Just over a fifth of people currently die in a care home but experts predict the number will more than double by 2040.

Experts from King's College London analysed data from 2004 to 2014 for deaths in England and Wales.

Over that period, the proportion of deaths that occurred in care homes increased from 17% to 21%, with numbers rising from 85,000 to 106,000 a year.

Calculations suggest this figure could rise to nearly 230,000 a year by 2040.

Meanwhile, the number of deaths in hospital fell between 2004 and 2014, to 241,335 in 2014, and this fall is expected to continue.

The researchers said most people prefer to die in the place they are usually cared for, including home, rather than in hospital.

But they warned that hospital deaths could rise again unless capacity continues to increase in care homes.

They said: "Our projections show that if current trends continue, the need for end-of-life care will rise substantially over the next 25 years, particularly at home and in care homes.

"If current trends continue, deaths in care homes, homes and hospices will almost double by 2040, which will account for 76% of all deaths.

"Care home deaths are projected to become the most common place of death by 2040.

"However, if care home capacity does not increase and these additional deaths instead occur in hospital, the decline in hospital deaths will reverse by 2023, rising to 40.5% of all deaths by 2040."

Anna Bone, lead author of the paper published in Palliative Medicine, said: "The projected rise of deaths in care homes is striking and warns of the urgent need to ensure adequate bed capacity, resources and training of staff in palliative care in all care homes in the country.

"If we are to continue enabling people to die in their preferred place, it is essential to invest more in care homes and community health services.

"Without this investment, people are likely to seek help from hospitals, which puts pressure on an already strained system and is not where people would rather be at the end of their lives."

Simon Jones, director of policy and Public Affairs at Marie Curie, said: "This research serves to underline the important role that care homes play in end-of-life care.

"Yet, we cannot ignore the simple truth that too many people in care homes are effectively cut off from the specialist care and support they need and deserve towards the end of life.

"Without the right resources and investment in place to support care homes, now and in the future, more vulnerable people will die in unnecessary pain and distress."

The paper comes as Lord Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association, warns that adult social care and children's services are at the top of its "worry list".

In a speech to open the National Adults and Children's Services Conference in Bournemouth, he will say: "Councils across the country are picking up the pieces of Whitehall's failure to properly invest in services that care for our communities.

"Both adult social care and children's services are at the very top of our 'worry list'. If we don't look after our older and younger people it's bad for our residents, bad for our communities and bad for our services more widely.

"England and Wales remain some of the safest places in the world to grow up in and we should all be proud of that.

"But that doesn't mean everything is OK. More and more children and families find themselves in situations where they need support from their council.

"This is at a time when government cash to councils continue to reduce."

Lord Porter also criticised the fact money is pumped into the NHS while councils struggle.

"In local government we balance our budgets and squeeze every last penny out of the shrinking purse we get. But health can get an extra £8 billion and manages to still overspend," he said.

"And then it gets promised even more money for buildings and technology. How does that add up?"

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2017, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Joe Giddens / PA Wire.