Most Australians would prefer to die at home but only about 14% get the opportunity to do so, according to an article in the Medical Journal of Australia.
Hal Swerissen and Stephen Duckett from the Grattan Institute in Melbourne say dying in Australia is now highly institutionalised with 54% ending their days in hospitals and 32% in residential care.
However, most (60% to 70%) Australians prefer to die at home.
“Dying is not discussed, and we are not taking the opportunity to help people plan and prepare for a good death,” the professors write.
A good death, the say, is one in which the patient had choice about who will be present, where they will die, what services they will get, and one in which their symptoms are well managed with personal, social and psychological support.
Most want to have the opportunity to say goodbye and leave “when it was time to go without pointlessly prolonging life”.
The professors suggest a public education campaign focused on encouraging people to “discuss their preferences and choices for end-of-life care with health professionals, including general practitioners”.
Swerisson and Duckett say the costs of a national education program would be $10 million and extending the availability of community packages to enable 30% of Australians to die at home would add $241 million.
However, the costs would be offset by reduced demand on hospital and residential aged care, an overall saving of
$50 million, resulting in a net cost of $84 million.
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