Dying in your own home
If asked, many people say they want to die at home. This may be because they want to be around familiar surroundings and people.
Learn more about:
- Being cared for in a familiar environment surrounded by people you know well may help you maintain emotional wellbeing.
- Lets you spend more time with family and friends.
- Depending on your situation and preferences, your family and friends can be at your side at all times.
- May offer more opportunities to maximise quality of life.
- May feel more natural and less clinical, while still giving you access to expert medical advice and symptom control.
- Allows you a sense of control over the last part of your life.
- Your family and friends may find comfort in providing most of your care.
- After death, family and friends can grieve at their own pace and decide when to call the ambulance or funeral home.
While this option is not for everyone, if you do want to be at home, support is available. This may vary from a few hours a week to a few hours a day to 24-hour care. Your GP, nurse, palliative care specialist or palliative care nurse practitioner can suggest services to manage symptoms such as pain or breathlessness. They can also teach carers how to assist with day-to-day activities such as bathing and eating. Even if you live alone, with planning you can stay as long as possible in your own home.
Some carers may appreciate having you nearby and not having to deal with hospital disruptions or fit in with the hospital routines. Caring for someone who is dying at home can be a meaningful and comforting experience, but it can also be challenging. For more on this, see Caring for someone nearing the end of life.
Sometimes people go into a hospice or hospital to have symptoms managed or to give their carers a break (respite), and then return home. Or they may decide it’s not possible to stay at home, even with home help, and that they would be more comfortable in a palliative care unit or hospital. You can decide at any stage to change your mind about staying at home and explore other options.
If you are planning to die at home, talk to your GP or palliative care team about ways of dealing with unexpected medical events. Keep a list of phone numbers handy to call if you need advice and support.
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.