Access to hospice care is currently inequitable.
People with conditions such as dementia, heart and liver failure, lung disease and frailty would benefit greatly from hospice care but are not widely being referred. At the same time, some children with life-shortening conditions are living longer and need support to transition into adult services.
In addition, many groups feel they are disadvantaged towards the end of life and do not have easy access to appropriate hospice services. These groups include certain faith groups, the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community, homeless people, prisoners and the traveller community.
To address this, we need to understand better who is not receiving hospice care and to help local hospices to better understand the needs of the community in their catchment area. Also needed is research into the most appropriate services and approaches, plus education, support and shared best practice to help focus scarce resources and respond to unmet needs.
The change that is needed
People towards the end of life, whoever they are, will:
- have timely access to hospice care if they have a life-shortening condition other than cancer;
- receive the support that is appropriate for their needs; this includes more support for children who are living longer with life-shortening conditions as they make the transition to adult services;
- benefit from greater understanding and knowledge within hospices of the unmet need in their catchment populations;
- receive more joined up and expert support, thanks to better collaboration between hospices, primary care, elderly care and other relevant clinical and social care teams and more systematic sharing of expertise.