May 20, 2009

Dying At Home Trend Could Make Hospitals More Efficient

Hospitals across Canada are seeking ways to free up beds. University of Alberta researcher Donna Wilson has a suggestion: people should be encouraged to die at home rather than in hospital.

She looked at statistics dating back to 1950 and has found that there's been a dramatic change in the location of death of Canadians. Up until 1994, about 80 percent of people dying each year were passing on in hospital. Now that number is down to 61 percent, and Wilson is hoping the trend continues.

She'd like to see only 40 percent of people passing on in hospital because, with an aging baby boom population, this could reduce wait lists and free up hospital beds for those who need life-saving treatment or surgery. In most cases, she says, it's also a much more dignified death for a family member.

Wilson says in the next 20 years the number of people dying could double and if death rates in hospital stay at 80 percent. Those numbers mean a potential tie-up of every single bed in Canada for three days of the year, because each person takes up a bed for an average of 10 days.

The professor in the Faculty of Nursing wants to see governments put more money into developing hospices, nursing homes and training for home care.


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