Hospiscare in Exeter has written to the BBC to complain about the negative portrayal of hospice care in a recent Eastenders storyline.
In the storyline, character Stan Carter, who had prostate cancer, received hospice care, with family members commenting that he “died in a grotty hospice.”
Hospiscare’s CEO Glynis Atherton has spoken of the damage the storyline could do to hospices, commenting: “We are very concerned by the BBC’s dismal portrayal of hospices and the inaccurate picture this gives potential patients and families.
“They really ought to have done their research and visited a hospice before using such damaging material.”
According to Hospiscare’s housekeeper, Wendy Yelland, the soap’s portrayal of hospice care is nothing like reality. Wendy, who was appalled after watching the story develop, said: “The hospice they showed is not like any of the hospices I know – they showed a gloomy room, with gloomy staff.
“Here in Exeter we have bright, light rooms, beautiful views of our gardens, there are wonderful flower displays everywhere and my housekeeper colleagues and I work really hard to ensure the place is cleaned to a very high standard. I am proud of our work here. All the staff and volunteers are cheerful, nobody walks around whispering, it’s a place of laughter as well, of course, of sadness.”
The national charity for hospice care, Hospice UK, has also written a letter to the BBC expressing disappointment at how hospice care was portrayed in the storyline.
Picking up on some of the points covered by Hospiscare, the letter highlights the fact Stan was depicted in a dark and gloomy room, pointing out that most hospices are light and airy, and many have private rooms overlooking a garden.
It also notes that the attending nurse hardly talked to Stan at all, despite hospices being renowned for their highly personalised and compassionate care, as noted in surveys such as the annual National Survey of Bereaved People.
The letter continues: “As a charity which represents more than 200 hospices across the country, we know this portrayal is not representative of modern hospice care. Indeed, several of our members have expressed their concerns to us about how it casts hospices in a poor light. They feel this will negatively impact on public perceptions of the services they offer.”
Hospice UK has offered to assist the BBC on any future storylines involving hospice, end of life care or issues around death and dying in EastEnders or any of its other programmes.