‘Death and dying continues to be seen as a big taboo’ | Mary O’Hara The US palliative care specialist says end-of-life care should be a higher priority – and it makes sense financially, too
Dr BJ (Bruce) Miller is convinced that how we care for people towards the end of their lives needs an urgent, radical rethink. An American palliative care specialist, Miller is in the UK this week as the keynote speaker at a conference marking the 50th anniversary of modern hospice care in Britain. He will argue that much more needs to be done to ensure the best possible quality of life for people as they deal with illness and approach dying.
“The way in which we handle death and dying is enormous, fascinating and elemental, and yet it is something that continues to be seen as a taboo,” Miller says of how societies like Britain and America tend to confront the issue. Palliative care is not as high a priority as it should be, he says, and while there are encouraging signs of a growing understanding of the importance of end-of-life care, “at least here in the United States, and I presume [in Britain], a lot of people don’t understand what the heck palliative care is”.
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