Whose Business is Dying? Death, the Home and Palliative Care

John Rosenberg


Abstract

The process of dying at home brings the nexus between the paternalism of conventional palliative care and a social understanding of end of life care into sharp focus. Away from institutional places of care, issues of ownership, compliance and communal responsibility are heightened. At this interface, palliative care services are confronted with the irony of relinquishing their 'ownership' of dying whilst leading communities to reclaim their principal role in the business of dying. This benign – but enduring – paternalism remains a barrier to a paradigmatic shift towards a more complete understanding of the business of dying. Whilst nascent attempts to promote community engagement in end of life issues are evident in the interface between palliative care and public health, dying remains, for the most part, the remit of health care services. In this article, I contend that the business of dying is incompletely attended. This lack of attention will be partially redressed here by considering the home as a fitting death scene.

Keywords

Palliative care; public health; social models; home care

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