A ground-breaking guide – Do You See Us? – is launching at a free webinar on 28 January 2021. The aim is for migrant centre workers, social workers and welfare teams to be better prepared to support people who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF) access the same quality of end of life care extended to the rest of the population. The webinar will be hosted by internationally recognised St Christopher’s Hospice, and the resources have been created by the hospice and Claire Henry MBE, with the support of Hospice UK and St James’s Place Charitable Foundation.
Mary is one of the 1.4 million often hidden people who find themselves with no recourse to public funds, and with the added burden of caring for someone with a life-limiting condition. Mary, her husband Emmanuel and five-year-old son Alexander came to the UK from Kenya. Shortly after arriving, Emmanuel was diagnosed with a brain tumour, their asylum application was refused, leaving them with no access to many benefits.
Thankfully, the family was referred to a hospice where the social worker recognised their physical, emotional and financial needs and helped resolve them. Sadly, Mary and her family are the exceptions. The number of people with NRPF is growing with Citizens Advice reporting a doubling of referrals since COVID-19.
After 18 months of research, listening to the experiences of people living in the UK with NRPF, and collaborating with partners and specialists working in migrant centres, St Christopher’s Hospice is launching unique resources to help identify and support one of society’s most vulnerable groups when they are facing the end of life for themselves or someone they care for.
In their introduction to the guide, St Christopher’s Joint Chief Executive, Heather Richardson, and Project Lead Claire Henry MBE, reflect that: “The exciting element of this guide is the opportunity it affords for new partnership working between people who are expert around end of life and those who feel confident working with people with no recourse to public funds. Neither can help this group of people adequately on their own – each need the other to attend to the double disadvantage facing carers and those they care for. For this reason, the resources are written in a way that brings their two worlds together, with the person who is dying, their families and carers at the centre. This is the essence of the very best of end of life care and we hope it will encourage all involved to emulate it in their practice.”
With strong community links to a wide range of professionals and local organisations that may benefit people with NRPF, including social workers, bereavement teams, faith groups and housing organisations, hospices and specialist palliative care units are ideally placed to support people with NRPF. Palliative care providers are urged by the guide’s authors to better equip themselves to recognise and support these people.
In the resources, practitioners will find 14 things to consider when thinking about how best to support a carer with NRPF, based on hospice pioneer Dame Cicely Saunders’ concept of total pain. These take into account the carer’s physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs. In addition the resource provides an easy-to-follow checklist of key actions for both individual professionals and organisations.
So, for example when considering someone’s physical needs, it’s important to consider their knowledge of what help is free and available to them, whether they’re registered with a GP, as well as finding out about their living conditions and whether they have access to a phone to contact those that can help them.
When it comes to emotional needs, establishing if someone with NPRF has suffered mental distress, and understanding their cultural approach to illness, treatment, death and dying, are just some of the important factors to consider.
Recognising someone with NRPF’s legal status is a crucial aspect of the response to their social needs, and this is where liaison with colleagues in migrant centres comes into its own. Establishing respite provision is another example of meeting social needs.
Connecting someone with the appropriate faith community and understanding their wishes for after death and bereavement are just two of the important considerations for tackling spiritual needs.
Heather Richardson comments: “There is a completely unmet need to support many vulnerable people who have little support from the welfare state and are struggling to cope with dying, either for themselves or a loved one. How we treat the dying is a reflection on our society. All dying people and those close to them should have access to the care and support they need, whenever and wherever they need it, and whatever their background.
“The onus is on both individuals and organisations to take the lead. For individuals this means practitioners need to start by increasing their personal awareness and understanding of what it means to have NRPF before making a concerted effort to identify affected individuals and build networks with potential partners. While for organisations, there is a need to commit to promote the wellbeing of asylum seekers and refugees and by extension, those with NRPF.”
Do You See Us? is launching at a free webinar on 28 January 2021 at 4pm. For booking details or further information please visit: