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Twelve Principles of a Good Death


Updated: November 8, 2006

What is a Good Death?

Twelve principles of a good death were identified in The Future of Health and Care of Older People by the Debate of the Age Health and Care Study Group.

Principles of a Good Death, according to the Debate of the Age Health and Care Study Group, included:

  • To know when death is coming, and to understand what can be expected.
  • To be able to retain control of what happens.
  • To be afforded dignity and privacy.
  • To have control over pain relief and other symptom control.
  • To have choice and control over where death occurs (at home or elsewhere).
  • To have access to information and expertise of whatever kind is necessary.
  • To have access to any spiritual or emotional support required.
  • To have access to hospice care in any location, not only in hospital.
  • To have control over who is present and who shares the end.
  • To be able to issue advance directives which ensure wishes are respected.
  • To have time to say goodbye, and control over other aspects of timing.
  • To be able to leave when it is time to go, and not to have life prolonged pointlessly.

These are principles are good ones to incorporate health care services, professional codes and care plans or missions for end of life care organizations and institutions.

Smith R. A good death. BMJ 320:129-130. 15 January 2000. 8 November 2006. <http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/320/7228/129>
Debate of the Age Health and Care Study Group. The future of health and care of older people: the best is yet to come. London: Age Concern, 1999.

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