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It can be tough for families when patients choose to die at home

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 29 May 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f3397
  1. William Tosh, specialist trainee year 2, Anaesthetics, Department of Anaesthesia, Russells Hall Hospital, Dudley, West Midlands DY1 2HQ, UK
  1. w.tosh{at}

The family felt unprepared for the emotional and physical challenges, writes William Tosh, of complying with a father’s wish to die at home

Dad died peacefully at home, surrounded by his family, exactly as he had wished. We had anticipated the huge impact that Dad’s death would have on our family, and were therefore not surprised by the feelings of emptiness and loss that engulfed us all. We were not similarly prepared, however, for the practical difficulties and emotional challenges of caring for Dad at home.

Dad was admitted to hospital at the end of January 2012. His general condition had deteriorated, and extensive disease progression quickly became evident. In particular, he had great difficulty breathing and was using high flow oxygen constantly. A syringe driver was fitted, and Dad was prescribed extensive pain relief.

The palliative care team met with Dad alone, and he was adamant that he wanted to return home. This quickly became the focus of the patient centred plan, and the wheels were speedily put in motion to …

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