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“Please, I want to go home”: ethical issues raised when considering choice of place of care in palliative care

Abstract

Many palliative care patients would prefer to receive care, and to die, at home. Despite this many die in institutions. In response to this, politicians and charities have adopted policies aimed at increasing the opportunities for care and death at home. The need to discuss plans for discharge with most inpatients reinforces expectations of a choice of place of care. However, many palliative patients do not have a choice of care at home. This article will explore the circumstances in which patients are unable to choose home care and consider changes in clinical practice that can help to maximise choice. We shall argue that there is a distinction between the preferences of patients and the choices actually available to them. In attempting to make this distinction we advocate consideration of the balance between the ethical principles relevant to each case.

  • discharge planning
  • palliative care
  • terminal illness
  • place of care
  • choice

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