Marie Curie Nurses play a vital role in home care

Marie Curie Nurses play an important role in helping people stay at home at the end of their lives, avoiding the need to go into hospital, according to a new study   published today.

Examining the experiences of people with terminal cancer, the research found that people who were cared for at home by Marie Curie Nurses rarely die in hospital.

This fits with previous research from the Nuffield Trust on the impact of Marie Curie Nurses, which showed that seven out of ten people cared for by Marie Curie Nurses die in their own homes.

Seven out of ten people cared for by Marie Curie Nurses die at home
Source: The impact of the Marie Curie Nursing Service on place of death and hospital use at end of life, Chitnis et al, November 2012, Nuffield Trust

The new study, from the Cicely Saunders Institute, also found that people who die at home experience more peace than those dying in hospital.

Other factors that helped people achieve their wish to die at home, according to the research, included how long their family had been aware that they had a terminal illness, whether or not the patient had discussed their wishes with their family and how frequently their GP visited them.

Hospital care

But is dying at home always the best option for people?

An article in the British Medical Journal  , published yesterday, warns that there shouldn’t be an assumption that the home is always the best and preferred place of death. It argues that more emphasis should be put on improving how people are cared for at the end of their life in hospitals.

We know that the needs of people who are terminally ill, and what is important to them and loved ones, vary widely. If being at home at the end of their life is important to someone, we think they should have the right support to achieve that wish.

Being cared for at home isn’t always practical for everyone and we agree care for people with a terminal illness in hospital needs to improve – after all, almost half of all deaths in England happen in hospital.

Pain management

We want to see 24/7 palliative care provision, in our NHS hospitals and community settings, including care homes, so that everyone involved in caring for people with a terminal illness gets the right support to meet their patients’ needs.

But we know, as the report from the Cicely Saunders Institute shows, when people have the right support in place, and when it’s what they want, they can be cared for and have their pain managed at home.

That’s the kind of care Marie Curie Nurses give, for example to help Christine, who cared for her dad Granville at home:

Marie Curie Nurses cared for Christine's father Granville at home so he could spend time with his family. Christine explains the difference our nurses made. 

Find out more about Marie Curie Nurses