Devon Plan Aims To Help People ‘Die In Dignity’

More people could be allowed to ‘die in dignity’ at home under new plans to improve health and social care services.

Under radical new plans, health and council chiefs want Devon residents to have the choice of spending the last days of their lives at home.Called The Way Ahead, the five-year vision aims to deliver better healthcare for Devon residents. It was put together by Devon County Council and Devon Primary Care Trust.

The plan has been cautiously welcomed by Teignbridge MP Richard Younger-Ross who said: “I will be looking out for the devil in the detail.”

The Way Ahead looks at making the most of new technology and supporting people to stay healthy and independent throughout life, But it also looks at how the ‘end of life’ can be tackled.

The report says it wants to reduce the number of people being admitted into hospital in the last days of their lives when they would rather die at home.

It will also promote ‘dignity, choice and freedom from avoidable pain’ and minimum standards of support for families and carers if relatives chose to remain at home to die.

The plan sets out to address the varying social and health care needs of Devon’s 750,000-strong population, from newborn babies to people with long-term conditions and disabilities. The framework includes plans to make services more convenient, closer to people’s homes and tailored to modern life demands.

It looks at giving bigger community hospitals to opportunity to providing more services such as X-rays, diagnostics, planned care, minor surgery and even urgent care.

It would ease pressures on acute hospitals, which can concentrate on providing more specialist services.

Over coming months people and organisations will be asked to comment on the draft framework which will be revised at the end of June.

Mr Younger-Ross broadly welcomed the report, saying: “Changes need to be patient-led. If people chose to give birth at home, or die at home then that is down to the individual choice. If the support for the patient and their family is there, then I welcome it.

“But we have been told more services will go to community hospitals in the past and this is very slow in coming. I will be pressuring the authorities to set clear targets for achieving this and checking the devil in the detail on how it would be implemented.”