If asked, many people say they want to die at home around familiar surroundings and people. While it is not for everyone, if you do want to be at home, help and support may be available for you and your carers. Even if you live alone, with planning you can stay as long as possible in your own home.
Home: what are the benefits?
- Helps you maintain emotional well-being by being cared for in a familiar environment surrounded by people you know well.
- Lets you spend more time with family and friends.
- 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.
The role of carers at home
Although dying is a natural process, few people have experience or knowledge of looking after someone who is dying. It’s a good idea to check how your family and friends feel about home care, and to allow them to express their own wishes without being judged.
Some carers may appreciate having you nearby and not having to fit in with the hospital routines. Other carers may be frightened and worried that they don’t know what to do. For some people, the thought of living in or visiting a house where someone has died fills them with concern.
Caring for someone who is dying at home can be a meaningful and comforting experience, but it can also have challenges. Your GP, nurse or specialist palliative care team can let your family know what assistance is available, and reassure them that they don’t have to cope alone. You might ask people you know who have cared for someone dying at home before to share their experience with you. Your carers can also read about caring for someone nearing the end of life.
Plans can change
Sometimes people go into a hospice or hospital to have their symptoms managed, or to give their carers a break (respite), and then return home. Or they may decide that they would be more comfortable in the hospice or hospital. Accept that plans can change and do what is best for your particular situation.
If you are planning to die at home, talk to your palliative care team about ways of dealing with unexpected medical events. Keep a list of phone numbers to call if you need advice and support.