My mum died on a noisy hospital ward. You can hear the cacophony, here, and also read the impact this had on our last hours together.
As I point out, this happened because there was a severe lack of side rooms on a ward where people died on an ongoing basis.
For me, it is unacceptable for anyone to have to die with a racket in their ears, save for rare unavoidable exceptions. Yet, a right to die in a quiet setting is not written anywhere. Despite scouring every document on end-of-life care or palliative care that I can find – from the Department of Health, NHS, government, national bodies and campaign groups – nowhere is it written that people have a right to die in peace and quiet or that it is an expected standard. There are references to person-centred care, which should include this, but this is meaningless if options are not available.
Of course, my Mum should have been able to die at home. And those who want to die in a hospice should be able to. But where circumstances render this not possible, there needs to be suitable alternative provision in hospitals.
Something needs to be done. This scandal cannot be allowed to continue.
On World Hospice and Palliative Care Day 2017, I have two challenges:
1. Start talking about whether there is a right to die in peace and quiet.
2. Think about making this happen in ways that bring about overall improvement in end-of-life care.
My hope is that, by this time next year, we will have moved forward.