Who wants to die in a care home?
Each year, 100,000 of us will die in a care home. A staggering number and perhaps shocking at first sight. Yet in reality, when care homes work well, there can offer the support and comfort that we will be very glad of in our final days, hours and minutes.
25 years ago, as a care-assistant, I remember how when someone died, doors would close, curtains were drawn, bodies were removed through the backdoor with very little acknowledgment of the person or mention to other residents. These days, we know many care homes where staff, residents and relatives are being supported to forge close relationships with one another. Through this, they are more able to talk openly and honestly about their hopes and fears about dying. As death draws ever closer, the home will come together in offering comfort, friendship, love and the opportunity to say goodbye to those around us.
This story from an older person about the death of a fellow care home resident says it all:
“Betty had been very poorly for a couple of days, and in the middle of the night the staff came and woke me up and said “We think Betty hasn’t got long. Do you want to come and say goodbye to her?” So I put my dressing-grown on and went down the corridor and they left me with her. I climbed on the bed next to her and put my arms around her and told her what a good friend she had been to me. She died in my arms”
Of course My Home Life know that it is not always like this, but if we, the public, were able to recognise and nurture the potential of care homes, we can help them feel valued and helped to offer the kind of support that we may wish for in our final days of life.