Review of first dialogue event
"Dying at home or in a care home: challenges for relatives, doctors and carers". Some 90 specialists from research, public offices and practice discussed this issue on 19 February at the Swiss National Science Foundation.
Can research undertaken as part of NRP 67 "End of Life" help improve the situation of the dying in Switzerland? The feedback from specialists in public offices and healthcare provision suggests that the answer to this question is an unequivocal "yes". At the dialogue event, representatives of the federal government, cantons, home healthcare services (Spitex) and the medical profession acknowledged that the research projects in NRP 67 address relevant questions and generate new knowledge about dying in Switzerland. Thus, the project led by Stefanie Monod showed that even individuals with limited mental capacities want to formulate their own wishes about dying and are capable of doing so. The projects conducted by Marc-Antoine Berthod and Beat Sottas address the key role played by relatives in caring for the dying and to the wide variety of tensions to which they are exposed in reality.
The dialogue between stakeholders from administration and healthcare provision highlighted the complexity of the situation faced by the dying and their families in real life. Not only do they have to deal with the differing responsibilities associated with healthcare, social services, local communities and the world of work, they also and above all have to cope with a growing number of professional support providers. This creates the risk of the interests of the dying and their relatives being pushed into the background.
The lively discussion among participants produced unanimity on the need to pay greater attention to the perspective of the people directly affected. The question of how we want to die has to be placed centre stage. There was also acknowledgement of the need for researchers to establish what the wishes of the general public are and to develop practical solutions for providing end-of-life support that is in line with these wishes.
The event was organised in cooperation with CURAVIVA Switzerland. Benno Meichtry, Head of Geriatrics at CURAVIVA, also emphasised that dying in residential and nursing homes creates major challenges for these institutions and their staff. The umbrella organisation depends on the research being conducted as part of NRP 67 to help it overcome these challenges.