Where to die
Choosing where you would like to die is a personal decision. Here we outline the options of dying in your own home, in a palliative care unit or hospice, in hospital, or in a residential aged care facility.
Learn more about:
- Making your choice
- Dying in your own home
- Dying in a palliative care unit or hospice
- Dying in hospital
- Dying in a residential aged care facility
Deciding where you would like to be cared for as you approach the end of life can be difficult. Having some control over where death occurs is often considered a key factor in dying well. Where that place might be will be different for everyone.
The options include:
- your own home
- a palliative care unit or hospice
- a hospital
- a residential aged care facility.
Where you would like to die may change as your situation progresses. You may want to spend as much time as possible at home, but feel more comfortable moving to a palliative care unit or hospital near the end. This is understandable and your wishes should be respected whenever possible.
It can take time to arrange somewhere to stay. Keep in mind that sometimes there isn’t space when you need it.
You may need to have ongoing conversations with your carers and medical team about the best place for your end-of-life care. This may include being in a familiar environment, being surrounded by family and friends, having good symptom control, and maintaining your dignity. It’s a good idea to find out the views and preferences of your carers and family. Although dying is a natural process, few people have experience or knowledge of looking after someone who is dying, and they may be uncomfortable with some options. Talking about where you would like to be cared for and planning ahead can increase the likelihood of receiving care in your place of choice.
In some cases, you may feel like your choice is limited, and that your situation helps decide the setting. This may be because you have medical needs that only a hospital or palliative care unit (hospice) can meet, or you may live in an area too remote for home visits. Your house may be unsuitable, perhaps because of stairs or a small bathroom, or your family or friends may say they feel unable to cope with caring for you at home. Talk to the palliative care team about your concerns and find out what options are available in your area.
Dr Megan Ritchie, Staff Specialist Palliative Medicine, Palliative Care Service, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, NSW; Gabrielle Asprey, Cancer Support Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Rosemary Cavanough, Consumer; Louise Durham, Nurse Practitioner, Metro South Palliative Care Service, QLD; Tracey Gardner, Senior Psychologist, Cancer Counselling Service, Cancer Council Queensland; Karen Hall, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Linda Nolte, Program Director, Advance Care Planning Australia, VIC; Rowena Robinson, Clinical Advisor, Palliative Care Australia, ACT; Helena Rodi, Program Manager, Advance Care Planning Australia, VIC.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.