Call for GPs to help patients die at home

While 70% of Australians want to die at home supported by family and friends, only 14% do so; about half die in hospital and a third in residential care, a new Grattan Institute report says.

Australian deaths differ from international norms, in that we have a home-death rate about half that of comparable countries such as New Zealand, the United States, France and Ireland, according to the report, Dying Well.

The report concludes many more people should be able to die at home or in homelike surroundings with the support of family, friends and effective services with a few key policy shifts.

Lead author Professor Hal Swerissen said it should be “the normal expectation” that GPs raise the subject of a patient’s preferences for end-of-life care during routine annual health assessments for the 75-plus age group.

“The Medicare item descriptors [for health assessments] could be revised to indicate that it is the

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