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Hospice UK believes that everyone has the right to high quality care and support at the end of life, no matter who they are, where they are or why they are ill. But we know that one in four people are still not able to access the help and support they need in their final days.

This is unacceptable.

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Our work on equality, diversity and inclusion

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We – the people who provide, commission and support palliative and end of life care services – must do more and must do so quickly. And this action must be grounded in the experience and wishes of all the people who we hope will benefit from our services.

Hospice UK’s strategy is based on these beliefs, and we are taking specific, measurable actions to deliver on these commitments within Hospice UK; within the hospice sector; within the wider palliative care and end of life care community; and within wider society. You can find information on the work we are doing in these areas below.

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Nurse with elderly lady
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Inequality in end of life care reflects wider inequality in society. The people who don’t receive the care they need and deserve when they die are most likely to be those who have already encountered unfairness and discrimination throughout their lives.

Within Hospice UK

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We recognise that as the national voice on end of life care, and as an employer, we must create a culture where everyone has an opportunity to participate and is valued for the skills, experience and perspectives they bring. 

We expect our staff and volunteers to treat everyone with dignity and respect and to work together to promote an inclusive workplace without discrimination or harassment.

We recognise we need to be proactive and accountable, and to take tangible, measurable action within our organisation. We also recognise that the commitments we make may lead to gradual change and progress, and that we need to continually review, refine and strengthen these actions. 

  • Our organisational values – to be inclusive, compassionate, collaborative, knowledgeable and innovative – are in place to guide our work every day. These values were chosen by staff, and are embedded in the way we work together as a team.
  • Our recruitment policies are designed to encourage a diverse workforce. We guarantee an interview to candidates who declare a disability and who meet the minimum criteria of a job role. We operate blind recruitment for staff and recruited trustee roles – removing names and dates from applications – to mitigate against unconscious bias.
  • All staff and trustees receive training on equality, diversity and inclusion, encouraging them to consider their biases and helping them to understand how we can all take responsibility for creating a healthy and supportive culture for everyone. Line managers receive specific training on inclusive management.
  • Our staff policies are designed to create an inclusive environment, including flexible working and generous wellbeing support.
  • We regularly review these policies to ensure they keep up with best practice, taking external advice from partners including the Samaritans, Mind, Cruse and consultants Charity Culture Catalyst.
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Team Hospice UK, staff and volunteers at London Marathon post-race reception.
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We expect our staff and volunteers to treat everyone with dignity and respect and to work together to promote an inclusive workplace without discrimination or harassment.

Within the hospice sector

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We know that different communities experience different levels of access to hospice services, for reasons that might be systemic, practical, perceived or historic.

Hospices are also important and influential organisations within their communities, as employers and as retailers, and, beyond their delivery of care to patients, can play a part in tackling inequality in society more widely. Our business plan includes actions to encourage hospices to recognise this role, and act on it.

  • We deliver a national grants programme which funds pilot projects and innovative approaches to increase access to hospice care for underrepresented groups. Recent examples include a project to build trust among ethnic minority communities in Yorkshire and another promoting knowledge of hospice care among the LGBT+ community in south London.
  • We are building and improving on national data which map the need for palliative and end of life care across the UK. Our PopNAT tool is designed to help services and commissioners better understand what people need in their area, and includes data on areas such as ethnicity and levels of deprivation, to help them ensure their services are inclusive.
  • We lead the hospice sector in identifying and sharing best practice on promoting equality - but also being clear on where more needs to be done. Our May 2021 report, Equality in hospice and end of life care: Challenges and change, examined examples of effective projects and set out what more was needed to better support groups including racialised communities, people experiencing homelessness, imprisoned people, LGBT+ people, people living in poverty and people with learning disabilities.
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Panel discussion.
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Whatever the reason, we recognise the role we must play as Hospice UK to drive change for underrepresented communities.

Within the wider end of life care community

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Palliative and end of life care is not just delivered by hospices, with organisations including the NHS, care homes, domiciliary care providers and prisons also major providers. 

  • Over the coming years, we will publish a series of in-depth reports to highlight and explore inequality across different areas and settings, using these as a platform to call for change. Our first such report, Dying Behind Bars, was published in spring 2021 and has led to encouraging conversations about reforms within the prison system.
  • Hospice UK hosts a number of successful ECHO networks (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) through which palliative and end of life care professionals from across the UK share and discuss best practice. The networks are open to all and, as they're online, it's easy for anyone to take part. ECHO uses an ‘all teach, all learn’ approach, with everyone encouraged to contribute on an equal footing regardless of their professional status or background.
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Project ECHO at the Hospice UK National Conference
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We want to encourage the wider palliative and end of life care community to take action to promote diversity and inclusion where they are working.

Within wider society

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We recognise that inequality in end of life care is both a result of, and can perpetuate, inequality in wider society.

  • Our Dying Matters campaign, which sets out to tackle the taboo and stigma around death, dying and grief, has a focus on working with and representing all communities in all that we do. Our Dying Matters Community Grants Programme is designed specifically to fund activities with groups who have traditionally been less represented or less heard in our campaigning work.
  • We recognise that as an organisation with a national voice, we have a role to play in increasing the visibility of, and providing a platform for, harder to hear groups. We are benchmarking all our public facing communications and campaigns, with the aim of increasing the diversity of our imagery, our spokespeople, and the stories about death and dying we share.
  • Our refreshed public voice work will ensure that groups whose voices have sometimes not been heard are listened to in all that we do as an organisation.
  • Our Compassionate Employers programme is designed to encourage employers of all types to consider how the impacts of death, dying and bereavement among their staff base may not be the same for different individuals, groups and communities, and how to support them appropriately.
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Hospice UK London Marathon runner.
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We understand the role that we play, in partnership with communities, businesses, donors and others, to encourage and support wider social change.