Objectives: (1) To determine informal caregivers perceptions about place of care and place of death; and (2) to identify variables associated with a home death among terminally ill individuals who received in–home support services in a publicly funded home care system.
Participants and design: A total of 216 informal caregivers participated in a bereavement interview. Data collection included care recipient and informal caregiver characteristics, the use of and satisfaction with community services, and preferences about place of death.
Results: Most caregivers reported that they and the care recipient had a preferred place of death (77 and 68%, respectively) with over 63% reporting home as the preferred place of death. Caregivers had a greater preference for an institutional death (14%) than care recipients (4.7%). While 30% of care recipients did not die in their preferred location, most caregivers (92%) felt, in retrospect, that where the care recipient died was the appropriate place of death. Most caregivers reported being satisfied with the care that was provided. The odds of dying at home were greater when the care recipient stated a preference for place of death (OR: 2.92; 95% CI: 1.25, 6.85), and the family physician made home visits during the care recipients last month of life (Univariate odds ratios (OR): 4.42; 95% CI: 1.46, 13.36).
Discussion: The ethic of self–control and choice for the care recipient must be balanced with consideration for the well being of the informal caregiver and responsiveness of the community service system.