About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland provides information on the percentage of time spent at home or in a community setting in the last six months of life. Data are presented by financial year from 2011 to 2012 through to 2020 to 2021, by NHS board, Health and Social Care Partnership of residence and for Scotland. The figures presented for financial year 2020 to 2021 are provisional.

Main points

  • In financial year 2020 to 2021, there were 62,701 deaths in Scotland, including falls (but excluding people who died from other external causes). For these individuals, 90.4% of their last six months of life was spent at home or in a community setting, with the remaining 9.6% spent in hospital. This is equivalent to an average of 17 days in hospital in the six months period prior to death.
  • The length of hospital stays in financial year 2020 to 2021 are likely to have been impacted by measures put in place due to COVID-19. This may be an underlying reason for a marked increase in the percentage of time spent at home or in a community setting between financial years 2019 to 2020 and 2020 to 2021 – increasing from 88.4% in 2019 to 2020 to 90.4% in 2020 to 2021.
  • Generally, the percentage of time spent at home or in a community setting in the last six months of life has increased gradually over the last decade – in financial year 2011 to 2012 the percentage was 86.3%.

Percentage of last six months of life spent at home or in a community setting; financial years 2011 to 2012 to 2020 to 20211,2

This is a bar chart showing the percentage of end of life spent at home or in a community setting from 2011/12 to 2020/21. The percentage of time spent at home or in a community setting has increased gradually from 86.3% in 2011/12 to 90.4% in 2020/21. The percentage of time spent in the hospital setting continues to show a gradual decrease from 13.7% in 2011/12 to 9.6% in 2020/21. In 2020/21, 90.4% of the last six months of life was spent either at home or in a community setting, with the remaining 9.6% spent in hospital.
  1. Figures for financial year 2020 to 2021 are provisional.
  2. The increase in financial year 2020 to 2021 is likely due to the impact of COVID-19 on hospital stays.
  • For people aged 85 and over in financial year 2020 to 2021, a slightly higher proportion of their last six months of life was spent in the community by women than by men (91.4% and 89.3% respectively) – an average of four days more for women.

Background

This Quality Outcome is a measure of the impact of the Scottish Government’s "Strategic Framework for Action on Palliative and End of Life Care".

The percentage of time spent at home or in a community setting towards the end of life provides a high level indication of progress made on the strategic framework for action. This is inferred by measuring the amount of time spent in a hospital during the last six months of life and thus using this information to estimate the time spent at home or in a community setting.

Further information

For more information on Palliative and End of Life Care, see the End of Life Care section of our Data & Intelligence website.

The next release of this publication will be in October 2022.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.peolc@phs.scot.

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 01 October 2021
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