New research highlights high level of community-based care provided by the UK’s hospices

Nov 17, 2016

Eighty per cent of hospice care for adults is provided in a range of community settings - with less than a fifth delivered in hospice inpatient units - according to new data analysis published today which provides the first ever snapshot of hospice care across the UK.

New research by the charity Hospice UK shows that the majority of clinical care for adults is delivered in different community-based settings including: people’s homes, day hospice and hospice outpatient services. Day hospice and outpatient services can include: medical and nursing care, rehabilitation services, music therapy and complementary therapies.

Charitable hospices made nearly a million visits to people with terminal and life-shortening conditions supported in community settings, including their homes, last year.

The new research is published amidst increasing calls from leading health policy-makers for more integrated community-based support and new models of care, especially as hospitals are facing growing pressures over rising demand for their services.

Hospice UK’s research highlighted that people with a cancer diagnosis constitute nearly eight in ten (79 per cent) of those supported in community-based and in-patient hospice care in the UK. It also showed that people with conditions other than cancer tend to be referred to hospice care at a later stage and in fewer numbers than those with cancer, although the number of referrals for people with non-cancer conditions is gradually increasing.

The new research marks a first step in assessing the national picture of hospice care provision across the UK. However, Hospice UK emphasised the need for more data about the experiences of people who use hospice care and how hospices supports carers and also people in other settings such as care homes and hospitals to improve end of life care.

There are an estimated 100,000 people in the UK who will need expert end of life care but will not get the right support according to Hospice UK’s report. Improving the quality of data about who uses hospice care will help expand the provision of hospice care to everyone who needs it, especially people from hard-to-reach groups, whose needs can often be overlooked.

Other key findings from the research include:

An estimated 200,000 people received support from charitable hospices last year – more than four in ten people of those who need expert end of life care. In addition, charitable hospices also provided bereavement support to at least 40,000 people. 

Almost a third of people (32 per cent) who are admitted to a hospice in-patient unit stay there for a brief period before returning home (highlighting that hospice care supports people through all stages of their condition, as well as at the end of life).

Last year hospices spent more than £860m on providing support for people with terminal and life-shortening conditions, their families and carers.

Tracey Bleakley, Chief Executive of Hospice UK, said:

“Our research provides a valuable snapshot of hospice care in the UK, especially in highlighting the high level of community-based support provided by hospices.

“This strong community-centred aspect of hospice care presents opportunities for hospices and the NHS to work together in a more integrated way to help deliver a seamless experience of care for more people with terminal and life-shortening conditions.

“This research marks a good starting point. However, we know we need to do more to understand the reach of hospice care and its contribution to the wider care system, especially if we are to tackle persistent inequalities in end of life care. Hospice UK is committed to working with hospices and other care providers to achieve this.”

Notes to editor

  • The report is based on new analysis of hospice data for the Minimum Data Set (MDS) for Specialist Palliative Care Services. The MDS is produced annually in partnership with Public Health England, the National Council for Palliative Care and Hospice UK and covers England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The new analysis includes recent data from Hospice UK on hospices in Scotland to provide a snapshot of hospice care across the UK. The report focuses on hospice care for adults.
  • A copy of the report Hospice Care in the UK in 2016 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 on 020 7520 8296 or by email at s.stevenson@hospiceuk.org. For out of hours media enquiries please call 07881 940 318.

For out of hours media enquiries please call 07881 940 318.

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