Demand for care at Heart of Kent Hospice reaches record high

Categories: Care.

For the first time in its 32-year history, Heart of Kent Hospice is now caring for over 1,000 local people across all its services.

The Aylesford-based Hospice, which cares for terminally ill people on their Inpatient Unit, in their own home or care home, has been experiencing a steady rise in referrals for several years and this trend is set to continue.

Research published in the medical journal The Lancet Oncology indicates that about 3,500 people in England may die within the next five years of breast, lung, oesophageal or bowel cancer due to a delay in their diagnosis. 1

Evidence also shows that a gap of as little as two months in diagnosis and treatment has led to a significant number of patients seeing early-stage tumours progress to a stage where they cannot be cured. 2

The Hospice, which is dedicated to making end-of-life care accessible to everyone in the community throughout all care settings, is focused on reaching people within their community who do not currently know about its services but could benefit from its care and support.

The Hospice Hub drop-in services are one way the Hospice is reaching more people and these are designed to support anyone with a terminal illness including their carers and families.  There are also specialist drop-in services for people with Dementia, Motor Neurone Disease (MND) or those requiring bereavement support.

It costs £6 million annually for the Hospice to continue providing services to patients and their families and friends who live in the Maidstone, Aylesford, Tonbridge & Malling and surrounding areas, £5 million of which has to be raised each year through fundraising.

Since its establishment in 1991, more than 60,000 people, including patients and their families, have benefitted from the outstanding, compassionate care provided by the Hospice. Rachel Street, Chief Executive of Heart of Kent Hospice said:

“We have doubled the number of patients supported by the Hospice in five years, and that number continues to rise considerably.  Over 1,000 local people are under our care right now, for the first time in our history; and with every person we tailor our care to the individual, taking a holistic assessment of their needs, whether they are physical, emotional, spiritual or social.”

Delays in diagnosis and the postponement of treatment have contributed to the growth in the number of patients requiring day-to-day support, and end-of-life care.

Even with the increase in demand, the Hospice is determined to reach all those in need of their services. In addition to caring directly for patients and their families, the Hospice’s Education Team share their expertise with other care providers to improve end-of-life care for all the Maidstone community.

Kerry Harrison, Patient Services Director at the Hospice said: “We have been strengthening our services for several years, recruiting the right people, and investing in our Community Team who care for patients within the comfort of their own home and local care homes.   In addition, our Dementia Team is seeing an increase in demand for their services driven by an aging population. While the challenges increase, we are determined to ensure that we can support each and every family that needs us now and into the future.”

If you or someone you know needs the Hospice’s expert support you can self-refer or your healthcare provider can also refer you.

As the demand for care increases, it reinforces the vital role that the Hospice plays in the local community and highlights the funds needed to support these services. To help Heart of Kent Hospice raise funds, please consider taking part in a fundraising activity, like signing up to their weekly lottery or perhaps taking part in one of the many fundraising events including ‘Light up a Life’ on 10 December 2023 at Aylesford Priory or take part in the ‘Merry Little Christmas’ family event at The Village Hotel in Maidstone on 16 December 2023.

Visit the website for further details

1 Source: Maringe C., Spicer J., Morris M., et al, 2020 ‘The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer deaths due to delays in diagnosis in England, UK: a national, population-based, modelling study’, The Lancet Oncology, 21: 1023–34, Published online on July 20, 2020

2 Source: Sud A., Torr B., et al, 2020, ‘Effect of delays in the 2-week-wait cancer referral pathway during the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer survival in the UK: a modelling study’, The Lancet Oncology, 21: 1035–44, Published Online July 20, 2020


About Heart of Kent Hospice

Heart of Kent Hospice has been providing free, compassionate, end-of-life care to people living with a terminal illness and their loved ones in Maidstone, Aylesford, Tonbridge and Malling and the surrounding towns and villages for the past 32 years.

The Hospice has built an excellent reputation within the local community for the quality of its care, which has been further endorsed by the Care Quality Commission who awarded us with an overall rating of ‘Outstanding’ following an inspection in February 2017.

Our vision is for everyone living with a terminal illness in our community to achieve the best quality of life. We are committed to achieving this by enabling them to live in comfort, with independence and dignity to the end of their lives, and to support those closest to them.

Last year the Hospice cared for over 1,800 patients and their families in their own homes or at our Aylesford-based Hospice. Our charity needs to raise £6 million to deliver all the Hospices services, and we depend heavily on our loyal community of supporters, whose generous donations and fundraising activities raise money for us every year.

For regular news and updates relating to the Hospice, please follow us on social media:

There are lots of ways people can support Heart of Kent Hospice.  Find out more here


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