According to a study, researchers examine people living in the most deprived neighborhoods are 24% more likely to die alone at home than those in the least deprived areas. Dr. Anna Schneider and Dr. Iain Atherton analyzed data on all 53,517 people who died within a year after the Scottish census 2011, using the census and death record data. They were also less likely to die in a hospice or care home.

Dr. Schneider told the British Sociological Association medical sociology conference in Glasgow today [Thursday, 13 September 2018] that in 2011 those who were close to death in the most deprived areas were less likely to be living with a family member or friend who was a carer in the house.

Deprived Areas

In the last 12 weeks of their life, 37% of those in the least deprived areas lived with a family member or friend who was a carer, but only 28 percent of those in the most deprived areas did, she said. 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.

Hospice Care

The 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 the hospital and 28% at home. They died on average at age 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. They died on average at age 78.8. When the statistics were adjusted to compare people of the same age, sex, and cause of death to isolate the effects of poverty, the difference was reduced, but still existed.

Our research shows that neighborhood deprivation influences how people spend their last months of life in Scotland. People living in deprived areas are more likely to die in a hospital or at home and less likely to access services like hospices or care homes.

They are also less likely to receive informal help at home because they more frequently live alone and have a lower chance of living with a carer. End of life care has received much attention from policymakers in the last years, but 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. 

Deprived Areas

In the least deprived areas of Scotland, 22% die in a care home and 8% in hospice, a total of 30%. For those in the most deprived areas, 13% die in a care home and 6 percent in a hospice, a total of 19 %. The difference between 30% and 19% is just over a third, 37% (11 percentage points). 37% of those in the least deprived areas had a caregiver in the house, but only 28% of those in the most deprived areas, a difference of just under a quarter, 24% (9 percentage points).