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Hospice champions campaign to widen access to care

4th March 2019

St Richard’s Hospice is joining forces with other hospices across the UK to support a new campaign aimed at widening access to the vital support they provide for people with life-limiting conditions and those who care for them.

The Open Up Hospice Care campaign – which launches today (4 March) and is led by national hospice and palliative care charity Hospice UK- highlights how hospice care is available beyond hospice in-patient units, including in people’s homes.

Members of the People’s Parliament, a group organised by the SpeakEasy NOW self-advocacy charity which is run by people with learning disabilities, pictured at a public debate around growing older and end-of-life attended by St Richard’s Hospice and other organisations

One in four people in the UK miss out on the care they need according to earlier research by the national charity – due to a range of reasons including: late or a lack of referrals to hospice services and low levels of awareness about hospice care and where and when this support is available.

Also, studies have shown that people from economically deprived areas, BAME (black and minority ethnic) communities and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people can experience barriers to accessing end of life care services.

Hospice UK and local hospices are working to tackle this through initiatives to extend care to more people, such as expanding community services and reaching out to the different groups of people who have been missing out on vital support, including those caring for their loved ones at home.

St Richard’s Hospice has a range of local initiatives to widen access to hospice care. These include building relationships with the local mosque to discuss end of life care preferences; regularly engaging with the community at GP surgeries, libraries and community events; promoting services at Worcester Pride 2019 and ensuring hospice literature is available in easy read format and other languages. Alongside partners, St Richard’s is exploring barriers to end of life care for people with a learning disability and people experiencing homelessness.

Hospices provide wide-ranging support for both people with life-limiting conditions and their families, including: counselling, bereavement support and respite care.

Today Hospice UK publishes the findings of a new survey by ComRes which found that seven in ten UK adults (72 per cent) say that support from a local hospice would make them feel more confident in supporting a loved one with a terminal condition at home.

And more than eight in ten (82 per cent) UK adults surveyed say the role of hospices will become more important in the next decade. Eight in ten (83%) of those who think this, say it is due to the growing care needs of the UK’s ageing population.

The ComRes survey also showed that half of UK adults surveyed (48%) are aware that hospices receive the majority of their funding from fundraising and donations (e.g. via charity shops, communities, lotteries). Nearly a fifth of those surveyed (17%) incorrectly think that hospices receive the majority of their funding from the NHS.

St Richard’s Hospice Chief Executive June Patel said: “We know there are many people in Worcestershire who are not getting the expert end of life care they deserve and our current Build 2020 project to expand and redevelop our building in Worcester will help us go some way to meet that unmet need.

“The number of people in Worcestershire aged 65+ and who are living with an incurable long term condition is projected to rise by 63% over the next 20 years. We currently support more than 3,000 people a year and we anticipate our bigger hospice will enable us to care and support up to 4,000 individuals by 2021/22.”

Tracey Bleakley, Chief Executive of Hospice UK, said: “For some, hospice care can seem a remote reality but we are all living longer, often with complex health conditions, and more of us will need this care in the future ourselves, or will be caring for a loved one who does.

“As our survey shows, the British public clearly values the role of hospices and recognises they will become more important in future given the seismic shift in our rapidly ageing society and with the increasing strain on the NHS. However despite this, many people find out about hospice care far too late.

“With its focus on comfort not cure and promoting quality of life and what matters most to people, hospice care can help them live well until the end of life and support their loved ones and it is available in more places than most people realise.

“We want to share the benefits of hospice care more widely so that everyone is able to get this vital support and wherever they want.”