Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Ageing issues and end of life care

There has been a lot of activity in the press of late about care and treatment in later life. It was interesting to hear Terry Pratchett's views about assisted death/suicide, see for example:


Assisted suicide/death is very topical, but of greater concern to me is how we work towards improving care in later life. It was interesting to read recent press reports and the Royal College of Physicians report on oral feeding difficulties towards the end of life. See:



This would not seem to be a new challenge as Florence Nightingale in her Notes on Nursing wrote:
‘Every careful observer of the sick will agree in this that thousands of patients are annually starved in the midst of plenty, from want of attention to the ways which alone make it possible for them to take food. This want of attention is as remarkable in those who urge upon the sick to do what is quite impossible to them, as in the sick themselves who will not make the effort to do what is perfectly possible to them.’ (Nightingale 1860, p. 63)

It will be interesting to see whether the recent press interest in ageing issues in anyway impacts on quality of care.


  1. Is it a coincidence that The Guardian gave a whole page to the 'news' that Martin Amis had been interviewed by the Sunday Times about euthanasia and 'the elderly' the week before Pratchett's lecture?
    Whatever, I've downloaded all contributions to the Guardian's 'Comment is Free' in response to the Amis interview. There are 302 of them and I'm planning to analyse them identifying how various views are articulated. I don't need any more data but if anyone has experience of analysing such data or know of similar studies, I'd be pleased to hear about them.

  2. Hello Bill
    I did a similar analysis following comments on Baroness Warnock's BBC interview also talking about dementia and right to die. In the end I didn't draw much on the comments but make brief reference to the response in Fawcett and Reynolds, BJSW 2009 (see ORO for details). I drew on positioning theory which I found useful for this. Also did an analysis of course forum posts about interprofessional working, using a discourse analysis approach. These posts are a rich source of data aren't they?