In line with most peoples’ wishes, the study showed that the number of patients dying in care homes and at home is increasing, while the number of people dying in hospital declines. Using official mortality data on over 5,500,000 people and population forecasts, the researchers found that from 2004 to 2014, the proportion of deaths occurring in care homes increased from 17% to 21%, with numbers rising from 85,000 to 106,000 per year. If this trend continues, the number of people dying in care homes will double to nearly 230,000 per year by 2040, which would see these facilities overtake hospitals as the most common place to die.
"The projected rise of deaths in care homes is striking and warns of the urgent need to ensure adequate bed capacity, resources and training of staff in palliative care in all care homes in the country," said lead author Anna Bone.
"If we are to continue enabling people to die in their preferred place, it is essential to invest more in care homes and community health services. Without this investment, people are likely to seek help from hospitals, which puts pressure on an already strained system and is not where people would rather be at the end of their lives."