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Play review
Home Death
  1. Erica Borgstrom
  1. Correspondence to Erica Borgstrom, Institute of Public Health, Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge CB2 0SR, UK; eb442{at}

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Edited by Nell Dunn. Published by Nick Hern Books, London, 2011, soft cover, 59 pp. ISBN 978-1-84842-195-0, £8.99.

Gripping the audience, a staged reading of Home Death was well received at the National Council for Palliative Care's (NCPC) 20th Anniversary event in May 2011. Since 2008 and the release of the End of Life Care strategy, the activities of the council have been marked by more publicity and public concern about the way people are dying and should die within the UK. Being sponsored by Dying Matters, the NCPC and Napp Pharmaceuticals, the play is heralded as representing the issues at hand, the importance of ‘getting it right’ when it comes to dying and as a voice for change in a society set up as ‘death denying’.

One of these key issues is embodied in the quote attributed to Dame Cicely Saunders, the founder of the modern hospice movement: ‘How people die remains in the memory of those who live on’. It touches on our struggle for a good death, toying with the potential fear and pain that it could hold. This same outlook is the basis for the play Home Death by Nell Dunn, which illustrates the stories of those who have died at home, often from the perspective of those who have lived on.

The play stems from Dunn's own experience of her partner's death at home after a longer-than-expected illness. Their story forms the central spindle of the play, with another six stories weaving around depicting different experiences of dying at home. Like Mick wanting to die in fancy, expensive bedding and Dan refusing to use the hospital bed installed in Nell's house. All the stories are based on real-life experiences that Dunn collected through hours of conversations with the spouse, child and friend of …

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  • Funding The review was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.