Family carers under pressure and in the shadows

By Karen February 20, 2018

It is clear family and friends will play a critical role in meeting rapidly rising palliative care needs predicted within the next 30 years. However, this is not recognised in most mainstream palliative care policy, writes the University of Auckland’s Merryn Gott

Being at home, in our own bed, surrounded by loved ones, is an image that dominates popular understandings of dying well, at least in most Western countries. It is an image that relies not upon statutory health services, but rather upon an unpaid and largely invisible workforce which is likely to be our single greatest resource as we reach the end of our lives. It provides approximately 70 hours a week of care, meets up to a third of the total financial costs incurred and is one we are all likely to claim membership of at some point in our lives. The workforce in question is of course, family and friends and it is a workforce under increasing pressure.

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