Scottish hospices should be recognised as “community assets” says new report

Sep 21, 2016

New Health and Social Care Partnerships in Scotland should recognise hospices as “community assets” that provide a wide range of services beyond inpatient beds – if they are to fully identify and meet the care needs of local communities – according to a new report launched today.

New research published by the charity Hospice UK highlights the vital contribution made by Scotland’s 16 charitable hospices towards supporting people of all ages with terminal and life-shortening conditions. 

Last year Scottish hospices provided care directly to more than 20,000 people and supported thousands more indirectly, working with providers such as hospitals and care homes. This represents 40% of everyone in Scotland deemed in need of this support according to the report entitled The role of hospice care in Scotland.

Hospice UK’s report illustrates how hospices are ideally placed to support Scottish health decision-makers – namely the new Health and Social Care Partnerships that will take over the commissioning of hospice care later this year – to identify and support the palliative care needs of their local communities. 

Hospices provide a plethora of services beyond clinical care in the final days of life. This includes: community specialist nurses, daycare services (such as counselling, music therapy and massage), bereavement support for families and also support to tackle isolation among older carers of people with terminal and life-shortening conditions.

In Scotland almost three times as many people are supported in their own home or community settings  as are cared for in hospice inpatient beds. This helps reduce unnecessary hospital admissions and ensure families and carers are able to have a break. In addition, people who receive care at home are more likely to die at home – where the majority of people prefer – and have a better experience at the end of life than those who die in hospital.

Hospice UK’s report also highlights the substantial contribution to Scotland’s health economy by charitable hospices. Last year they spent more than £55 million on caring for patients, their carers and families, with the majority of this generated through community fundraising and donations.

The Scottish Government is currently reviewing hospice funding to ensure parity between children’s hospices and adults. The report highlighted that this review presented an opportunity for the Government to restate its commitment to 50% funding of hospice care to all those responsible for commissioning hospice services.

While Scottish hospices are working to extend their reach, experts estimate there are 10,600 people a year in Scotland who would benefit from palliative care but do not currently receive it. This is often because people are not being identified, assessed or referred.

The report called for a more integrated approach to the commissioning and delivery of end of life care between the multiple agencies involved and for better intelligence about palliative and end of life care, backed up by robust data and analysis. It welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment in its Strategic Framework for Action on Palliative and End of Life Care unveiled last year as an important step towards this.

Tracey Bleakley, Chief Executive of Hospice UK, said:

“As our report highlights, Scotland’s charitable hospices punch well above their weight – supporting thousands of people with terminal and life-shortening conditions and also making a huge contribution to the country’s health economy.

“However, we know that more needs to be done to ensure that everyone approaching the end of life, and also their families and carers, receive the vital support they need.

“Hospices evolved in direct response to the end of life care needs of people in their local communities and have developed their expertise in compassionate care over the last 50 years. Hospices are a valuable community asset for health and care leaders in Scotland and by working more closely together they will be able to extend hospice and palliative care to many more people.”

Mandy Yule, Chief Executive of Ayrshire Hospice and Chair of the Scottish Hospices Forum, added: 

“Scottish hospices have a vital role to play in helping widen access to end of life care and are primed to play their part.

“Working together to effectively identify and respond to people’s local care needs, hospices are supporting the new Health and Social Care Partnerships to embrace a person-centred approach to palliative and end of life care across all settings. This opportunity will inevitably enhance the experience of patients, carers and families at this very important and difficult time in their lives.”

Notes to editor

  • A copy of the report 'The role of hospice care in Scotland' is available on Hospice UK’s website.
  • Hospice UK is the national charity for hospice care and the only membership body for organisations providing hospice care. We support and champion the work of more than 200 of these organisations across the UK.
  • Hospices, and other organisations which provide hospice care, offer vital care for people with terminal or life-limiting conditions and also support their families and carers.
  • For further information about hospice care follow us on Twitter @hospiceukPA.
  • Get all the latest news from the hospice and palliative care sector, as well as patient stories, on ehospice UK at: www.ehospice.com/uk This service is managed by Hospice UK. You can also follow ehospice news on Twitter at @ehospicenews.

Media enquiries

Please contact Suzanne Stevenson, Head of Media and PR at Hospice UK on 020 7520 8296 or by email at s.stevenson@hospiceuk.org For out of hours media enquiries please call 07881 940 318.

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