Wiley, Health and Social Care in the Community, 4(14), p. 341-348
Care homes throughout the UK provide long-term care for frail older people. Whilst care homes are a home for life, many of the older people living in this setting also die there. There is increased interest in improving the care that older people receive in care homes towards the end of life. One way to achieve this has been through links with specialist palliative care services. The knowledge held in care homes by staff, residents and their family carers has yet to be fully integrated into this work. Consequently, a postal survey of care home managers in one English county was undertaken to examine the characteristics of end-of-life care for older people in these care homes. We sought to establish the managers' understanding of end-of-life care; the extent to which dying and death is present in this setting; the attributes of the resident population living in these care homes; and the availability of resources to support the provision of end-of-life care in this setting. The survey identified that managers held diverse understandings regarding the meaning of end-of-life care. The features of the residents' conditions and the dying that they experience requires a different way to conceptualise end-of-life care. A longer-term perspective is offered here that encompasses the whole period of a person's residence in a care home.