Background: Increased attention is being paid to the place where people die with a view to providing choice and adequately planning care for terminally ill patients. Secular trends towards an institutionalised dying have been reported in Britain and other developed world regions.
Aim: This study aimed to examine British national trends in place of death from 2004 to 2010.
Design and setting: Descriptive analysis of death registration data from the Office for National Statistics, representing all 3,525,564 decedents in England and Wales from 2004 to 2010.
Results: There was a slow but steady increase in the proportion of deaths at home, from 18.3% in 2004 to 20.8% in 2010. Absolute numbers of home deaths increased by 9.1%, whilst overall numbers of deaths decreased by 3.8%. The rise in home deaths was more pronounced in cancer, happened for both genders and across all age groups, except for those younger than 14 years and for those aged 65-84, but only up to 2006. The rise was more evident when ageing was accounted for (age-gender standardised proportions of home deaths increased from 20.6% to 23.5%).
Conclusions: Following trends in the USA and Canada, dying is also shifting to people's homes in Britain. Home deaths increased for the first time since 1974 amongst people aged 85 years and over. There is an urgent need across nations for comparative evidence on the outcomes and the costs of dying at home.