End of life home care plan considered in Wales

Terminally ill patients who want to be die at home should be given equal access to care services under new plans being considered in Wales.

The Welsh government says patients should be supported "wherever they die - at home, in hospital, in a care home or a hospice".

The Together for Health - Delivering End of Life Care plan sets out how inequalities in NHS Wales care will be addressed over the next four years.

Charities have welcomed the strategy.

One of the plan's key aims is that "24/7 support to all people entering the terminal phase of their illness" should be provided.

Health Minister Lesley Griffiths said: "Everybody is affected by the death of a family member or friend who has gone through a final phase of illness.

"I want, as far as possible, to reduce the amount of distress in the terminal phase of illness for the patient and their family.

"I want patients to have access to information to help them make decisions about their care and treatment so they have an element of control at the end of their life."

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, professor of palliative medicine at Cardiff University and Velindre NHS Trust, said the plan showed a "deep commitment" to improve end of life care.

She added: "More can still be done to ensure good quality end of life and palliative care is readily available, universally."

Amy Clifton, policy advisor for Age Cymru, said: "Death should be a dignified process and Age Cymru welcomes this strategy from the Welsh government and its commitment to improving end-of-life care.

"Everyone who needs palliative care - specialist, tailored care provided to people who are nearing the end of their lives - should have access to it."

It said older people experienced unequal access to specialist palliative care and "urgent action is needed to address this".

Susan Morris, general manager for Macmillan in Wales, a cancer support charity, said: "We welcome the publication of this delivery plan.

"Macmillan has made considerable investments to improve end of life care in Wales, including funding an education programme to improve the communications skills of GPs.

"We are pleased to see this work acknowledged in the report."

A 12 week consultation into the report is due.

Simon Jones, Marie Curie's head of policy and public affairs in Wales said: "This delivery plan is an important step in ensuring that terminally ill people and their loved ones get the care and support they need but often don't get.

"We will be asking those we care for, their families and our staff for their views as part of our response to the consultation."

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