No place like home?

By David Jolley

2020 has seen more deaths in England and Wales. Most of the excess deaths are accounted for by Covid-19, which displaced patients with other conditions from hospitals to produce a marked increase in the number dying in private households:

Deaths from all causes increased by 14% in England and Wales during 2020. 97% of the excess deaths were related to Covid-19.

There was a 20% increase in deaths in private households. These deaths were caused by a range of conditions, including cancer and heart problems, which in previous years would have occurred in hospital. Covid deaths were concentrated in hospitals and care homes. (Excess deaths in care homes 10%)

Deaths at home increased by a third in 2020, while deaths in hospitals fell except for COVID-19 – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)

The statistics show an increase in deaths at home with dementia by 64% and for Parkinson’s Disease by 65%.

This is a scenario, which many would have been keen to see – more people dying in their own homes than in general hospitals. But this must have put tremendous pressure on families and on community health, and social care services. So much ‘health care’ has been conducted with ‘no touch’ techniques via telephone or the internet. I wonder what life in these last days at home has been for individuals and for those caring for them.

Google has not pointed me to publications where people have looked into this. Is it too late to discover the outcomes from this natural experiment?

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