While you may not consider the last few weeks of your life to be worth quite as much consideration as all the years that come before, the Economist Intelligence Unit begs to differ. Since 2010, the EIU has conducted a series of tests to determine which country offers the best ‘quality of death’ – and the UK continually wins out.
According to BBC News, the reason that Britain has such an overwhelmingly positive reputation for end-of-life care is its excellent integration of health professionals within the NHS program. Unlike the segmentation of care providers in the United States, Britain offers a fully cooperative range of care from hospital doctors to community nurses in order to ensure comfortable pain management and palliative care. Essentially, doctors work alongside hospice workers and everyone in between, all towards the common goal of easing UK patients through their final weeks of life.
Out of the 80 countries surveyed in the EIU report, Yahoo News notes that Britain was closely followed by Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland. The US did not make the top five, and, in fact, received an 80.8 out of 100 (while Britain topped the chart at 93.9).
Britain’s NHS does allow for much more affordable care for its elders, but America and other supposedly wealthy countries all demonstrated significant gaps in coverage despite the worldwide increase of geriatric populations.
The EUI is careful to point out that, despite its high score, even the UK could stand to improve palliative care – especially when it comes to including patients’ families and loved ones in important decisions regarding end-of-life care.
As far as America goes, the Affordable Care Act has seen significant controversy without even bringing much focus onto geriatric issues. As the national debate over state-sponsored healthcare rages on, the EUI study suggests that this should change, considering the fact that ever-improving medical care earlier in life means that the elderly population will only continue to grow.