Care homes discounted in end of life care

Posted on August 14th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 2 comments

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

I am sure that we all want those who we care for to experience ‘a good death’ when the time comes. At present about one-in-five people spend their last days and hours in a care home and I know of many care homes which deliver excellent standards of end of life care.

Staff in hundreds of care homes have gone through the rigorous assessment procedures of the Gold Standards Framework (GSF) in end of life care, with many homes achieving ‘beacon’ status, the highest level of accreditation awarded by GSF. Indeed, some care homes actively promote best practise, giving other care homes and agencies the benefit of their expertise.

A recent survey of organisations providing specialist palliative care services to care homes gives the briefest of mentions to the good work done by care homes and focuses instead on the problems rather than the achievements.

The survey report, commissioned by Public Health England and undertaken by the Marie Curie Research Centre at Cardiff University, with input from the National Council for Palliative Care and Hospice UK, perhaps unintentionally casts care homes in a Cinderella role; not quite up to the oh-so-professionalised end of life care on offer in hospices and the like.

This is a shame. Nowhere is the person-centred approach more important than in end of life care and I believe that care homes are better positioned than most to excel in this (with the assistance and clinical expertise of outside agencies where and when appropriate). A care home resident will often have lived there for several months and will feel themselves to be supported by people who they know and trust; they wil be familiar with the physical environment, as will their visiting friends and family, making everyone feel more relaxed and secure. Senior care home staff will often have years of experience of supporting residents and their families in the last days.

Perhaps I am being a little harsh in my criticism of the survey report, but I don’t think so. I warn you that it makes for turgid reading but do have a look at the report; it can be downloaded from

  • The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.

2 responses to “Care homes discounted in end of life care”

  1. Neil Russell says:

    Maybe I’ve missed it but I can’t see any reference to the Gold Standards Framework at all in this report, how much money have the NHS spent on repeating the work the GSF already carry out?

    By the way the highest award for GSF is Platinum, held by 16 homes across the country.

    • Bob Ferguson says:

      See pp 19 and 39.
      I can’t see what all the fuss is about. The report neither knocks nor patronises care homes. The exercise was designed to “increase understanding of how specialist care services support adult care homes”. What’s not to like about that?

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