According to end-of-life charity Marie Curie, people are dying at home without the right nursing support or pain relief due to a lack of staff.
Responding to a survey by the charity and Nursing Standard, one in three nurses say the main challenge is the lack of staff to provide quality care to those who die.
More than half of nurses said they think the level of care has deteriorated during the coronavirus pandemic.
Some 548 nursing staff in acute and community settings across the UK completed the survey in September.
They raise concerns about the increasing number of people dying at home and the insufficient number of community nurses to support these people and their families.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been more than 74,005 deaths in private homes in England and Wales, according to an analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Of these, only 12 percent of the deaths were due to coronavirus.
More deaths are the number of deaths in the non-pandemic years of 2015-19 than the average for the same period.
One nurse who responded to the survey said: “If more [people] dying at home, there is tremendous pressure on the local district nursing teams who are struggling with the staff.”
Julie Pearce, chief nurse and executive director of quality and care services at Marie Curie, said: “The pandemic has caused rapid changes in many care settings.
“More people are dying at home and there is no staff to support this shift.
“The data shows a hidden crisis happening behind closed doors and people dying without the pain relief or respect they deserve.
“As a charity, we are urging MPs to support an amendment to the Health and Care Bill to make it a legal duty to enable palliative care services in every part of England.”
The survey also shows that health professionals have increased confidence in starting conversations with patients and families about end-of-life care needs, which Ms Pearce called “promising”.
Nursing Standard editor Flavia Munn said: “Nurses want to do their best and support those who want to die at home but don’t have enough of them.
“The pandemic has exposed many extraordinarily difficult decisions facing nurses at the end of life, choosing which patient to prioritize is a heartbreaking example.
“The most important thing is to be able to make a person comfortable in their last days and hours and to ease the burden on their loved ones.
“Ministers should focus on the human impact of chronic nursing staff shortages on patients, families – and the profession itself.”
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /