Wales

Bangor uni study into family caring for dying relatives

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A study is trialling using family members to care for dying relatives instead of nurses.

Bangor University, which is leading the research project, is looking at a way to allow more people to die at home.

It is hoped relatives will be able to carry out injections of medicine normally done by district nurses.

Dr Marlise Poolman, co-investigator of the study, said this was legal and would help cut waiting times for the patient.

Shortly before people die, many struggle to swallow - at which point medicine is given under the skin via an injection over a period of 24 hours.

People usually call the nurse to do this, but often have to wait more than an hour before they arrive.

Bangor University is working with Cardiff University and Gloucester NHS Trust to find out whether this role can be taken on by family members.

'Very distressing'

Dr Poolman said it would involve over-the-counter medicine already in people's homes and there would be vigilance to prevent any potential abuse.

Prof Clare Wilkinson from Bangor University said: "In some countries, like Australia, carers are trained to give symptom-relieving medicine to their dying relatives at home.

"We cannot be sure that this approach would be welcomed in the UK, so we need to test it out."

As part of the study, half of the people will get the usual care with the other half trying the new system. Depending on the results, a large trial may follow.

Those trying the new system will be trained to recognise symptoms and give injections whereas the other group will continue to rely on a nurse.

Diaries will be kept by all those taking part, detailing symptoms and treatments.

Baroness Ilora Finlay, chairwoman of the National Council for Palliative Care, said: "To have to wait for someone to arrive to give an extra dose of medication can be very distressing.

"This is very important project to assess the benefits and highlight any problems that need to be addressed for this to be rolled out widely."

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