Scottish local elections will be hugely important for future of hospice care

Categories: Policy.

The outcome of the upcoming Scottish local election will impact on the future delivery of end of life care. Eilidh Macdonald, Hospice UK’s Policy and Advocacy Manager for Scotland, writes about the issues that need to be addressed by the councils.

On the May 4, Scotland elects the local councillors that will form our 32 local authorities for the next five years.

This is important to hospice care as local authorities will play a central role in the delivery of end of life care through the newly integrated Health and Social Care Partnerships (HSCPs) – and face a huge challenge in getting it right.

Research suggests that 11,000 Scots in need of palliative care miss out on it every year. Unless the right action is taken now, that number will only get higher.

Ahead of the election, Hospice UK is asking political parties to address key issues in end of life care to ensure that everyone who needs palliative care will receive it, regardless of who, when or where. Below we highlight important calls to action from a range of organisations with expertise in palliative and end of life care.

There must be genuine co-production of care

We agree with organisations such as Marie Curie and the ALLIANCE that HSCPs must prioritise co-production with people and third sector organisations delivering care. It’s not just for show: it is absolutely critical to getting care right and reaching everyone in need. That means open shared decision making around needs, priorities and commissioning. Hospices report that engagement so far has been uneven across the country, meaning many HSCPs may be at risk of missing out on the experience and skills local hospice providers offer to planning processes.

Co-production of care also means valuing and supporting everyone who cares. Hospice UK wants resilient communities where carers and young carers are recognised as integral to the delivery of care and where they receive the support they need, knowing they are not alone. We back Marie Curie’s election priority that people caring for someone with a terminal illness must get the practical and emotional support they need fast-tracked, in line with the new Carers (Scotland) Act.

The social care crisis needs urgent and bold political action

We endorse Marie Curie’s manifesto and have collaborated previously to call for social care packages that are swift and responsive to people’s needs – free at the point of need as MND Scotland highlights in its manifesto. At the end of life, people cannot be stuck where they do not want or need to be due to a lack of support. They should have care that meets their needs and respects them as individuals with a life left to live – their way.

People need creative and brave solutions in the face of fiscal pressures

We also back Scottish Care’s call to support innovation and new models of care. Doing more with less must mean doing it differently in many cases: not just a cut-price version of the same. It’s not just about saving money (although getting palliative care right for people in need and their carers, does save money) it’s about putting people at the centre. The huge strides made by Scotland’s hospice sector in end of life care may not have been possible without the leadership and drive to find innovative solutions to improve individualised care.

Make a difference

Hospice UK supports the Scottish Government’s vision that by 2021 everyone who needs palliative care will have access to it; and its commitment to double palliative care in the community within the same time frame.

Our newly elected representatives will take crucial decisions affecting what palliative care looks like in their communities. We ask them to get involved and play their part in ensuring people live and die with the care they need.

For more information visit Marie Curie.

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