Partnerships between hospices and care homes improve people’s end of life experiences and reduce unnecessary admissions to hospital, but, new research from Hospice UK shows that these partnerships face barriers which prevent them from reaching more people in need.
In Scotland, around 20 per cent of people who could benefit from palliative care are missing out on it every year. The Scottish Government has said that by 2021, everyone who needs palliative care should have access to it, and has committed to doubling the provision of palliative and end of life care in the community.
To achieve that, care must go to wherever people are. Over 37,000 Scots live in care homes and a fifth of people who die, die in care homes. Widening access to end of life care must involve care homes being supported to deliver it.
Hospice UK surveyed Scottish hospices and found that 85% of them provided some form of support to care homes, with many keen to do more. As experts in delivering and supporting end of life care, hospices are well placed to work with care homes to ensure more people can benefit from the right care.
Hospices engage with care homes to provide support and share their knowledge and skills through two main ways:
Individual patient referrals to hospice care for people living in care homes, led mainly by Community Nurse Specialists.
A “whole-home” approach where a group of, or potentially all, care home residents can benefit directly through hospices providing education, training and support for care home staff.
Hospices tell us they want to do more, but there are a number of barriers facing hospice-care home partnerships including low awareness of their benefits, care home staffing challenges, insufficient data and short-term funding models.
Hospice UK makes a number of suggestions including: increasing awareness of benefits of partnerships, building data on the impact of interventions, sustaining partnerships over time and secure funding. It also back calls for a shift in the way we value and support care home staff.
People have a right to quality end of life care no matter where they are. With the right support, hospice-care home partnerships can grow to ensure more people have access to the care they need.
Hospice UK’s briefing: ‘Hospice care and care homes in Scotland’ can be found here: https://www.hospiceuk.org/policy-advocacy/briefings-consultations