Hospices must adapt and diversify to be “fit for the future”

Categories: Research.

The Commission was set up two years ago by national charity Help the Hospices to explore the challenges and opportunities that hospices in the UK would face over the next 10 to 15 years, and to make recommendations on how they should prepare for these.

A number of reports have shown that an ageing population will place increasing demands on hospices because of the rising number of people with complex health and social care needs – challenges not unique to the UK.

The Commission have involved experts from within and outside the hospice and palliative care sector, as well as service users and the general public, to explore a range of issues from the changing demands for hospice care, to fundraising opportunities, the hospice workforce and research in and by hospices. Reports on each of these areas have been published, along with a final report which outlines a range of actions that hospices should take over the next two to three years to prepare for the opportunities and challenges they will likely face in the future.

Key recommendations

The key recommendations from the Commission include:

  • New models: hospices will need to develop new models of care and adapt existing services to meet increasing and changing demands for their services.
  • Collaboration: hospices will need to work more closely with other organisations including the National Health Service, local authorities, care homes and voluntary sector organisations. Collaboration between hospices will also be important to maximise resources and increase efficiency.
  • Championing change: hospices need to become “champions of change” for care in their local communities and not just service providers. They should seek to actively influence health and social care service delivery in their local communities and share their expertise in providing person-centred care more widely with other organisations, including hospitals.
  • Reshaping the workforce: hospices will need to reshape and rejuvenate their workforces to help future challenges, including building new skills and expanding the role of volunteers.
  • Widening access: there is public demand for hospices to support more people with different conditions beyond cancer, including the “frail elderly” and people with dementia, by working in partnership with other organisations.

Professor Dame Barbara Monroe, chief executive of St Christopher’s Hospice in London and Vice Chair of the Commission into the Future of Hospice Care, said: “Modern hospices grew out of a response to appalling deficits in care for people facing the end of life. Now nearly 50 years on, there are still too many shameful lapses which have dented public confidence in the care system.

“In preparing for the challenges that lie ahead, hospices have a unique opportunity to once again lead a new revolution to help transform care. Hospices need to be bolder in extending their influence; by developing new services, forging new partnerships and exporting their values and practices to other organisations. By strengthening their individual and collective power, hospices can help provide the vital support that all patients with life-shortening conditions and their families deserve, wherever they receive care.”

The Commission officially launched its final report at the UK’s national Hospice Care conference yesterday (22 October). Following the launch, Dame Clare Tickell, Chair of the Commission into the Future of Hospice Care, and Dame Barbara Monroe spoke to ehospice to discuss the findings. You can view the short film on the Help the Hospices YouTube channel.

The final report from the Commission into the Future of Hospice Care, ‘Future ambitions for hospice care: our mission and our opportunity‘, can be downloaded from Help the Hospices website, along with a number of related reports from the Commission.

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