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Palliative and end-of-life care compromised during COVID

Shortages of PPE, essential medicines, and equipment resulted in excess care home deaths and compromised palliative and end-of-life care, a new report by end-of-life charity Marie Curie has found.

Better End of Life – a collaboration between Marie Curie, King’s College London Cicely Saunders Institute, Hull York Medical School, and the Universities of Hull and Cambridge – found that as well as excess deaths in care homes, the pandemic caused isolation and loneliness for people with terminal illness.

Experts believe that societal preferences and expectations for death and dying may have permanently changed as a result of COVID-19, with a greater preference for people to die outside hospital.

Yet, they describe the past year as “a stress-test for community-based palliative care., in homes and care homes”.

Dr Stephen Barclay, a GP and consultant in palliative care from the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at the University of Cambridge, and co-researcher, said: “care home staff have all been at the front line of end-of-life care during the pandemic. There is a pressing need for their central role in caring for people at the end of their lives to be recognised, supported and adequately resourced.” 

Marie Curie is calling for a long-term settlement to ensure end of life care is sustainably funded, with a particular emphasis on ensuring people dying at home.

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