Thursday, January 5, 2012

"The Right to Be Cared For"

The UK report from the Commission on Assisted Dying is out today and available for download.
I haven’t read the report yet, but found this commentary, putting the movement behind assisted dying into context of the larger social need to assist the vulnerable, to be particularly insightful. It’s from David Praill, chief executive of Help the Hospices:
"As the UK charity for hospice care, Help the Hospices wants to see a wider debate on assisted dying and we are pleased that the Commission has recognised the need for hospice and palliative care to be part of this debate.

"Assisted dying is one part of a wider issue that as a society we urgently need to tackle; how we care for vulnerable people – the dying, the frail and the sick.

"For hospices, the issue of assisted dying is not about the right to live or die. It is about the right to be cared for – the right to more care, better care and more appropriate care.

"Hospices play a vital role in supporting people at the end of life, caring for more than 360,000 people each year, including terminally ill people and their friends and families.

"As defined by the World Health Organization, hospice and palliative care ‘intends neither to hasten nor postpone death’ and this philosophy remains a cornerstone of hospice care in the UK.

"Instead, hospice care seeks to improve people’s quality of life before they die by providing care that is personal and tailored to the needs of the individual and their friends and family.

"Through hospice care, people’s fears are addressed and they are helped to live comfortably and with dignity. The power of hospice care to improve people’s experience of living with a terminal illness should not be underestimated.

"It is vital that people facing terminal and life-limiting illnesses are aware of and able to access the tailored care and support that hospices provide to people with a wide range of needs, conditions and ages.

"Hospice care is available to people in a variety of settings – at home, in care homes and outpatient clinics as well as hospice inpatient wards. However, there are still too many people who could benefit from such care but are not receiving it. It is estimated that there are 92,000 people with unmet palliative care needs each year (Palliative Care Funding Review, 2011) – some of which could be met by hospices.

"If hospices are to continue to develop and improve their services so that everyone with a life-limiting or terminal illness has access to dignified, personal and appropriate care at the end of life, it is vital that the role and contribution of hospices is supported. Help the Hospices is working with its member hospices to help achieve that wherever possible."

The BBC's take

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