In a nation where talking about death and dying can still feel like a taboo, COVID-19 has made us face up to uncomfortable realities about the care we would want for ourselves and our loved ones at the end of life.
The pandemic has led to an extra 6,000 deaths in Scotland in 2020. This is a staggering number and the impact on families, carers and wider society has been immense, bringing the challenges of grief and bereavement into sharp focus.
This article was originally published on https://www.hospiceuk.org/about-hospice-care/media-centre/news-from-hospice-uk/details/manifesto-priorities-for-scottish-parliament-elections-2021?secured=false
As Scotland gears up for its elections this May, we have a chance to reflect and learn from COVID – and to ask how we can become a nation where everyone experiencing death, dying and bereavement receives the care and support they need.
This is why Hospice UK is calling on all political parties to make palliative and bereavement care a priority, so that we can support people to live as fully and as well as they can to the end of their lives, however long that may be.
The moment has never been more pressing. The need for palliative care is increasing in Scotland, with up to 10,000 more people a year predicted to need palliative care in by 2040. A growing number of these people will be living – and dying – with multiple conditions, and needing much more complex care and support. We’re also seeing a rapid change in where people are dying, with more being in their own homes or in a care home, compared to in hospital. These trends were underway long before the pandemic, but have been accelerated by it.
There is only one chance to get care right at the end of life. Yet in Scotland there are deep-seated inequalities in the care people receive; as many as one in four are missing out on the support they need. It is not acceptable that where you were born, where you die or who you are should impact the care you receive.
Our manifesto priorities reflect the experiences of people who are dying, families and carers, and those who have been bereaved, as well as drawing on the expertise of the skilled and dedicated staff who care for them and our hospice members.
To ensure that everyone with palliative care needs, and their loved ones, have the support they need, we are calling on the next Scottish Government to:
- Commit to a new national plan for palliative and end of life care for Scotland that puts tackling inequalities at its hear.
- Plan for, invest in and develop the infrastructure for bereavement support for everyone who needs it, including building capacity and resilience within local communities.
- Deliver a proactive, responsive and flexible social care system that meets the changing needs of people living with a terminal illness.
- Increase support for unpaid (family) carers, including bereaved carers.
- Commit to working with Scottish hospices to secure a long-term, sustainable and transparent funding solution for the charitable hospice sector
We urge all parties and candidates in the Scottish Parliament elections to commit to making these a reality.
Download the full manifesto at www.hospiceuk.org/scottish-manifesto-2021