Most people are willing to help with a friend or relative’s end-of-life care, according to the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC).
Figures in their Dying Matters survey showed six out of ten people would be comfortable giving pain relief injections to a dying person if properly taught how to. Only 16% said caring for the dying was a matter for health and social care professionals.
The NCPC called for a ‘new approach’ to supporting end-of-life care which factors in people’s willingness to help.
Founder of the Good Grief Trust, Linda Magistris, who cared for her partner after his cancer diagnosis, said: ‘If you do not have the support around you, with others willing to go that extra mile, you waste so much time away from the person you should be with in those final days. Every minute is so important, every moment is treasured, help and support is crucial and makes those final days a little easier to bear.’
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said the report showed ‘very positive’ signs of public selflessness, but clarified it should ‘never become a substitute’ to professional care.
Professional lead for end-of-life care Amanda Cheesley said: ‘With major staff shortages in community care, far too many people experience delays in receiving the care and support they need to manage their symptoms, and many have to die in hospital rather than in their own home.
‘There are many ways the public can support patients to die in their own home and nursing staff are able to train people in appropriate tasks.
‘However, this must never become a substitute for care from trained nursing professionals, and must always be closely monitored to make sure both the patient and the caregiver are safe. We still need more investment in community nursing so that all those who want to die at home with their families can do so.’