Why Grants Make a Difference: Heart Failure and Hospice Care

Categories: Care and Must Read.

Dr Sarah Russell, Head of Research and Marie Cooper, Practice Development Lead Nurse at Hospice UK, explain how the charity’s grant programmes are helping to extend the reach of hospice care.

Hospice UK aims to ‘open up hospice care’ and make a real, practical difference in everything we do. One of the ways we do this is through our grant programmes. For example, in 2016-17 we awarded £825,000 in 375 separate grants. The grants demonstrate our commitment to make a difference with a range of funding opportunities for hospices and their staff and follow on support from the grants and clinical team.

How are grant programmes developed? We identify the focus of grant programmes by reviewing the evidence of the need and possible ways to provide care in a variety of topics, and then discuss and agree with the funding bodies. After a call for applications, and an assessment against criteria, a panel made up of Hospice UK and expert advisors make the final decisions about the awarded grants. Once the final awards are made, the successful projects are then supported by the Hospice UK clinical and grants team for the duration of their award (typically 18 months).

Support includes two Project Lead workshops which consider stakeholder engagement, disseminating the learning, monitoring, measuring and reporting activities, outputs and outcomes as well as webinars and ongoing conversations and advice from the grants and clinical teams. At the end of the grant programme, each project submits a final report to describe, explain and summarise their project and we support the sharing and dissemination of their projects.

One of our recent grant programmes has been funded by St James Place Charitable Foundation and focused on Heart Failure and Hospice Care.

Why heart failure? Over half a million people in the UK live with heart failure, and 30-40 per cent of those diagnosed with heart failure die within one year. There is extensive evidence that the distress faced by those living and dying with advanced heart failure is similar, and in many cases more severe, than those dying of cancer.

In 2017, in collaboration with Professor Miriam Johnson, Director of the Wolfson Palliative Care Research Centre, and supported by the British Heart Foundation and the National Garden Scheme, Hospice UK developed a guide for those providing and commissioning hospice services. Its purpose was to raise awareness of the need for a hospice-enabled approach to heart failure, and to suggest ways to engage with this issue using examples from services that have found creative solutions to move forward and overcome challenges.

St. James’s Place Charitable Foundation has supported Hospice UK since 2002. The Foundation has funded a grants programme for local hospices, focusing on a different area of care each year. Each theme has the overarching aim of investing in emerging innovations in hospice care, which have the potential to transform how we care for people at the end of life. In 2017, St James Place awarded £502,238 to 17 projects that focus on making a difference in heart failure and hospice care. The projects range from collaborations between hospices and NHS hospital and community teams, education and programmes for patients and carers.

On the July 5 2018, we held our second Project Lead day for the Heart Failure and Hospice Care programmes. Joined by 13 of the 17 projects, with Catherine Ind (Grants Manager) from St James Place Charitable Foundation, facilitated by Marie Cooper (Practice Development Lead Nurse) and Sarah Russell (Head of Research) with contributions from Lynne Ruddick and Helen O’Kelly (Health Services Engagement Team, British Heart Foundation), the aim of the day was to take a community of practice approach i.e. “groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly” to enable the projects to learn from and support each other in the delivery, reporting and completion of their projects.

It is a simple format really…get everyone in the same room, give all a chance to share the challenges, tribulations and success of implementing their projects, give everyone a safe space to ask questions of each other without being judged, cut up a few problems into manageable chunks, throw in a bit of debate, a sprinkling of relevant evidence, a pinch of information of what is expected in the impact report and gently marinate with everybody in the room. Follow up with resources and a review of the literature of issues discussed on the day.

So how will we know the difference that the grants will make? Every project is required to return a final report which details why they did the project, what their aims and objectives were, what they did, how they evaluated their outcomes, considered sustainability as well as what they think the lasting impact to be. The underlying principles or methodology for the final report design is drawn from Logic Models (to enable systematic consideration of the key components of any change and the relationships between them and the overall vision) and Theory of Change (comprehensive description and illustration of how and why a desired change is expected to happen in a particular context).

The Heart Failure and Hospice Care grant programme completes at the end of March 2019 and we look forward to learning and sharing from the final reports in order to make a difference to more people and their families living and dying with heart failure.

To find out more about the grants programme visit grants – what we offer

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