Rethinking the end: A compassionate approach to death, dying, and bereavement in the UK

Published: 28 November 2023

Death is a natural process and a universal human experience. 

Yet how we understand death, and how we die, has changed remarkably over the past few decades. Advances in medical science have fuelled an over-reliance on medical treatment at the end of life. Not only is this expensive, it also means nearly half of all deaths in the UK now occur in hospital, despite patients overwhelmingly expressing a desire to die at home. 

Avoiding difficult conversations about death deprives individuals and their families the chance to plan, emotionally and practically, for end of life.

In this report, we explain why we believe there is a need for change, what it might look like, and what is already being done to bring about such change. 

We take a deep dive into five different organisations and initiatives, each of which have emerged to address unmet need identified in the current provision for people experiencing death, dying and bereavement. Some provide direct support for those dying, some offer support for those left behind, and others are seeking to shift the wider narrative in society. Nonetheless, they all have a vision for something better.

This report is part of the Health Foundation’s Supporting Q Connections programme. The Health Foundation is an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in the UK.

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