New findings today (Tuesday 23 June) by Marie Curie show that there is limited understanding of what palliative care can do, who it benefits and when to introduce it.
It reveals that professionals do not receive enough training in the area and often miss the opportunity to consider whether there is a palliative care need.
Findings from a Marie Curie - commissioned survey of 500 UK clinical professions:
- Over a third (39 per cent) say that a lack of relevant experience amongst staff delivering care is a barrier to meeting the needs of terminally ill people
- Over half (55 per cent) consider better identification of an illness as terminal to be highly important in improving the quality of patient care
George McNamara, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Alzheimer's Society, said:
'Shamefully, palliative care has been overlooked for too long. Too often those at the end of life are being let down by a system that does not meet their needs.Dementia is the most common cause of death in women and many people living with the condition spend their final days in unfamiliar hospital surroundings rather than in their own home with loved ones. The system must change. Training must be seen as a necessity, not an optional extra.
'Good palliative care takes into account a person's emotional, physical and spiritual needs, as well as the needs of their family - improving dignity and quality of life at this critical time. Well-trained professionals should encourage people with dementia to discuss end-of-life care while they are still able to make informed decisions. The option of palliative care should be made available to all those with a dementia diagnosis.'