Sunday, Apr 19, 2015Sunday, Apr 19, 2015
Andy Ho, Senior Writer

Better to die a good death at home

Published on Apr 25, 2014 3:31 PM
Dying has moved from the warmth of one’s bed to the cold comfort of one in hospital, but might not an earlier death be better than a drug-filled prolonged life? Doctors should learn to recognise medical futility sooner and be brave enough to let people go home to die earlier. -- ST FILE PHOTO

MOST Singaporeans would choose to die at home if they could. A Lien Foundation-commissioned survey shows 77 per cent would prefer to do so. But official records show only 27 per cent dying at home last year, a figure that has changed little over the years.

Dying has moved from the warmth of one's bed to the cold comfort of one in hospital.

This is so even when the terminally ill can receive palliative care, which includes good pain control, at home. A team of doctors, nurses and social workers from a hospice will visit the patient at home once a week or more often to provide medical and emotional support. Such care can be had for $1,500 a year compared to hospital care, which is far more costly.

Dying at home means family members can come and go from the dying person's bedroom as the end draws near. So, the person is with his loved ones up to his last breath. But people are denied this when they die in hospital.

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!

Background story

There is also a conspiracy of silence about death, which is treated in the culture as something unspeakable.