The facts

What people expect

  • 82% expect that support and advice should be available 24 hours a day for those who are dying2
  • 84% feel it is important for political leaders to prioritise the issue of providing 24/7 support for people who are dying, their carers and families.
  • People’s greatest fear of death is that their family or loved ones will have to care for them by themselves with no support

The reality

  • Only 8% of local health services provide a comprehensive package of dedicated 24/7 advice and support which includes a specialist helpline and coordination service  for people dying and their carers
  • 56% of areas do not offer a dedicated 24/7 palliative helpline or co-ordination service for carers and people who are dying
  • 34% of areas have some out of hours palliative advice, support and coordination for both those who are dying and their carers out of hours
  • Only half of people who want to die at home are actually able to

Why is 24/7 expert support and coordination so important?

People should be able to die in their place of choice. We know that the majority of people want to die at home. However to do so they and their families need to be supported at all times. It’s become increasingly clear that the needs of dying patients and carers cannot be met in the standard 9am to 5pm model of service delivery. We know this from personal experience. 50% of calls to the Sue Ryder 24-hour palliative expert support service in Bedfordshire come outside these hours.

Access to coordinated, round-the-clock practical advice and emotional support for dying people and their families can not only lessen stress and anxiety, it can improve the quality of a death at home and reduce unwanted emergency admissions to hospital.

But not enough services like this are available 24/7 across the country. Only half of people who want to die at home are actually able to. If people are to have real choice about where they are able to die we must make sure the right support is available. With an ageing population and the number of deaths expected to rise we need to act now.

We want to see dedicated and immediately available 24/7 expert practical advice, emotional support and coordination for dying people and their families and need national and local leadership to make this happen.

2 Research by Populus in 2014, with 2000 adults in England