Experiences of end-of-life care in community hospitals

Sheila Payne*, Sheila Hawker, Chris Kerr, David Seamark, Helen Roberts, Nikki Jarrett, Helen Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Concerns remain that health and social care services often fail people dying of chronic illnesses other than those with cancer. British government policy aims to improve end-of-life care and to enable people to make choices about place of care near the end of life, with the assumption that home is often the preferred option. However, some elderly people may lack suitable social networks, family carers and other resources to remain at home. Community hospitals offer a potentially accessible resource for local provision of end-of-life care. They have the advantage of being located within easy reach for family members, are staffed by local people and in most of them, general practitioners can maintain continuity of care. This paper examines patients' and family carers' experiences of end-of-life care in community hospitals. In-depth organisational case studies were conducted in six community hospitals in the south of England. Interviews were undertaken with elderly patients dying of cancer and other advanced conditions (n = 18) and their family carers (n = 11). Qualitative analysis of transcribed interviews were undertaken, using the principles of grounded theory. Patients and family carers valued the flexibility, local nature (which facilitated visiting) and personal care afforded to them. Most participants regarded community hospitals as preferable to larger district general hospitals. Our research reveals that these participants regarded community hospitals as acceptable places for end-of-life care. Finally, we discuss the implications of our findings for improving end-of-life care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)494-501
Number of pages8
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2007


  • Death and dying
  • Elderly people
  • End-of-life care
  • Hospital
  • Palliative care


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