27. Days to Live
Days to live is phrase which provokes fear – then many questions? How do you know? How do they know?
Medical technology is a wonderful thing? It can keep us alive and predicts the end of life. But to what aim?
Sigmund Freud when dying of cancer was put out of his misery with an agreement with his doctor that an overdose of morphine would finish him when he had days to live.
The Liverpool Care Pathway was meant to be a managed way of helping hospital patients towards a dignified death in. The problem was that there was no training in end of life care for clinical staff. Standards of care were not consistently implemented. Sticking rigidly to protocol patients were being denied fluids when they wanted a drink! Dr. Shipman put the whole system into alert.
The NHS has struggled with end of life care. When is the end? Who says so? Is the patient in a fit state to have an opinion?
The only place that seems to have got it right is the Hospice Movement. Dedicated to palliative care the skills of dealing with the incremental stages of death are well researched. Specialist skills developed with an expertise in managing dying and death are unequaled in the last days to live.
Even so at the moment there is no alternative to a slow incremental death in the UK. So much suffering and a lack of dignity. Days to live.
The generation dying of old age at the moment is stereotypically cowed by authority. Stiff upper lip. Put up or shut up. Whatever the phrase: the dying generations are not complainers. They do not make demands. Perhaps this has something to do with the end of life care in the mainstream NHS system. There is an expectation that whatever is received patients should be grateful.
Recently a leaked report claims an increase in the numbers of older people dying: particularly in poorer regions. Cuts to funding? The statisticians do not understand and cannot discover the reason!
A lot more attention needs to be paid to the elderly and end of life care. Perhaps sheer numbers of the population reaching the end of life will force a revolution in the process of end of life dying.
Days to live.
Copyright Adrian Scott North London Counsellor Blog 2013
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Disclaimer: This weblog is the view of the writer and for general information only.
This article is designed to provoke argument and critique.