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Ashgate Hospice > What is a ‘good death’? – by Dr. Sarah Parnacott

For many people, trying to comprehend the concept of a ‘good death’ may seem impossible, particularly so soon after the death of a loved one. You might think that the term is jarring and insensitive; that the words ‘good’ and ‘death’ should not be in the same sentence.

However, for us at Ashgate Hospice, and for our palliative and end of life care colleagues across the UK, we believe the term ‘good death’ can have positive connotations. For us, a ‘good death’ is an end of life experience that seeks to remove pain, distress and suffering and takes into account the wishes of the patient and their loved ones.

The London End of Life Clinical Network has worked with a range of organisations and people to identify exactly what makes a ‘good death’. The organisation says a service supporting someone at the end of their life must follow certain criteria for the patient to experience a ‘good death’. This includes:

  • Providing care which is competent, confident, compassionate and personalised; 
  • offering joined-up, co-ordinated services and pathways which are easy to access and navigate; 
  • access to psychological and spiritual support; 
  • tailored pain management; 
  • timely assessment and provision of bereavement services; 

For each individual we care for, we strive to ensure all these attributes are met – doing everything possible to ensure our patients have the most comfortable death possible.

We all wish we could avoid death. It is certainly something that is never wanted and can never be forgotten. But when death is something that can’t be avoided, when there really is no other outcome to the most heart-breaking of situations, we strive to ensure that symptoms are controlled, and that the person has a say in where they want to be.