People in most deprived areas 24% more likely to die alone – research

People in Scotland’s most deprived neighbourhoods are almost a quarter more likely to die alone at home than others, new research says.

The research says those living in the most deprived neighbourhoods are 24% more likely to die alone at home than those in the least deprived areas.

Those living in the most deprived areas were also less likely to die in a hospice or care home, two researchers from Edinburgh Napier University found.

The findings have led academics to call for more insight into the circumstances of people nearing the end of their lives.

Dr Anna Schneider said: “Our research shows that neighbourhood deprivation has an influence on how people spend their last months of life in Scotland.

“End of life care has received much attention from policy makers in the last years, but in order to improve end of life care provision we need a better understanding of the social and economic inequalities in the circumstances people experience at the end of their lives.

“Administrative data such as we have used provide an unparalleled opportunity to do so.”

Dr Schneider and Dr Iain Atherton analysed data on all 53,517 people who died within a year after the Scottish census 2011, using the census and death record data.

In the last 12 weeks of their life, 37% of people in the least deprived areas lived with a family member or friend who was a carer.

Only 28% of those in the most deprived areas did.

When the statistics were adjusted to compare people of the same age, sex and cause of death – to isolate the effects of deprivation – the difference between areas was even greater.

Researchers also found that people in the most deprived areas were 37% less likely to die in a care home or hospice – 13% died in a care home, 6% in a hospice, 53% in hospital and 28% at home.

They died on average aged 72.5.

For those in the least deprived areas, 22% died in a care home, 8% in hospice, 20% at home and 50% in hospital.

These people died on average aged 78.8.

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