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Intensive end of life care

A new study has found that while the use of healthcare services by older adults increases in the last year of life, there is no evidence of the highly intensive end-of-life care that is seen in other countries and which is often associated with inappropriate care and undesirable outcomes.

What is striking, however, is the high proportion of unpaid care provided by family members which accounts for 42% of all care received.

The research found that significant proportions of older people experienced particular modifiable health problems towards the end of life, which if dealt with appropriately through screening and treatment, could significantly improve quality of life in a person’s last year.

The research also found that a high proportion of people who needed home, community and allied health services were unable to access them and the reasons for failure to access services suggests that substantial numbers of people were unaware of services and/or were reluctant to apply.

Almost half of those who died, died in hospital. This a relatively high percentage compared to similar countries. It can have a negative impact on the end of life experiences of people and their family as well as a cost implication for the healthcare system.

The research used 375 interviews completed by family members and friends of TILDA participants who died since the study began in 2009, representing 73% of confirmed deaths among TILDA participants between Wave 1 (2009) and Wave 3 (2014) of the study.