Experts debate end of life care in hospitals

Press release published

Experts debate end of life care in hospitals

Pictured from left to right: Professor David Clark OBE from the University of Glasgow, Lene Jarlbæk from REHPA - Knowledge Centre for Rehabilitation and Palliative Care, Professor Merryn Gott from the University of Auckland and Richard Meade from Marie Curie

Experts from three countries gathered in Glasgow yesterday (21 June 2017) to discuss the challenges and successes in delivering end of life care in hospitals.

Researchers from Scotland, Denmark and New Zealand discussed the correlation between hospital admissions and likelihood of death. In all three countries studies have revealed the number of people who would benefit from palliative and end of life care but do not necessarily receive it is higher than previously thought.

Of the three countries, Scotland has the greatest likelihood of a person admitted to hospital dying within 12 months (30%)[1] compared to Denmark (22%)[2] followed by New Zealand (14.5%)[3].

This highlights the role of hospitals in caring for those at the end of life and the need for improving identification of those who would benefit from specialist support. There is no suggestion receiving care in a hospital has an impact on life expectancy.

Compared to New Zealand, hospitals in Scotland have a higher number of older people receiving care. The proportion of those aged over 60 was 73% for Scotland and 42% for New Zealand. Just 17% were over 80 years in New Zealand compared to 32% in Scotland.[4] These figures will increase dramatically as populations increase and people are living longer with multiple conditions.

The event, organised by terminal illness charity Marie Curie and the University of Glasgow and sponsored by the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) Impact Acceleration Fund, welcomed attendees from across research, policy and healthcare. Early and honest conversations were highlighted as key to ensuring people’s wishes and needs are fulfilled and they have a ‘good death’.

The event was chaired by Professor David Clark OBE from the University of Glasgow and Danish researcher Lene Jarlbæk from REHPA - Knowledge Centre for Rehabilitation and Palliative Care - and the University of Auckland’s Professor Merryn Gott.

Professor David Clark OBE, University of Glasgow said:

The event was a terrific success. We had a chance to discuss the details of our shared study of end of life in hospitals in Scotland, in New Zealand and in Denmark, and in this comparison we found both similarities and differences in the results across the three nations. The discussion afterwards was very engaging, with audience members bringing forward new thoughts and ideas about the contexts and causes of these differences and similarities. There is scope to do much more comparative research in this area, and we hope that our collaboration in this event has solidified our relationship with our research colleagues in New Zealand and Denmark, as well as with Marie Curie in Scotland.

Richard Meade, Marie Curie Head of Policy and Public Affairs added:

The chance to hear from international experts and to compare their research with what happens in Scotland is hugely beneficial.  I would hope we can apply the learning opportunities and examples of good practice here. Being able to share and disseminate academic research, as well as discuss the implications for policy and practice is hugely important if we are to see progress in the care and support we provide to people who need palliative and end of life care.

Both the University of Glasgow’s End of Life Studies Group and Marie Curie support the Scottish Government’s 2021 vision that everyone who needs palliative care will receive it.

Listen to audio from the event here

View a film of the event here: https://youtu.be/qY1o499LLqk  

Notes to Editor

[1] Clark, D., Armstrong, M., Allan, A., Graham, F., Carnon, A. and Isles, C. (2014) Imminence of death among a national cohort of hospital inpatients: Prevalent cohort study. Palliative Medicine, 28(6), pp. 474-479. (doi:10.1177/0269216314526443) (PMID:24637342) (PMCID:PMC4845030) http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0269216314526443

Clark, D., Schofield, L., Graham, F., Jarlbaek, L., Gott, M. and Isles, C. (2015) Hospital care in the last year of life. British Medical Journal, 2015(351), h4266. (doi:10.1136/bmj.h4266) (PMID:26253242) http://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h4266/rr

[1] Jarlbaek, L. Presenting at event on 21 June 2017.

[1] Gott, M., Frey, R., Raphael, D., O’Callaghan, A., Robinson, J., Boyd, M  Palliative care need and management in the acute hospital setting: a census of one New Zealand Hospital. BMC Palliative care, 2013. bmcpalliatcare.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-684X-12-15

[1] Clark, D. et al (2014) Imminence of death among a national cohort of hospital inpatients, Clark, D. et al (2015) Hospital care in the last year of life, Gott, M. et al Palliative care need and management in the acute hospital setting: a census of one New Zealand Hospital. BMC Palliative care, 2013.