New Resource to help open up access to Hospice Care
Staff at St Leonard's Hospice and one of our trustees, and senior lecturer at the University of York Dr Kate Flemming, have been involved in discussions around a new resource which highlights successful approaches to widen access to end of life care. 
Posted Dec 20

New Resource to help open up access to Hospice Care

Commissioners and providers of palliative and end of life care need to take a more proactive approach to tackling inequalities in care to ensure that people of all ages in their diverse local communities receive the support they need according to a new resource published today. 

The resource - called ‘Care committed to me’ - focuses on three specific groups: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people, those experiencing homelessness and Gypsies and Travellers.

It shows how commissioners, service providers and health and care staff can successfully deliver high quality, personalised care to people from these groups by taking proactive measures to overcome many of the challenges that prevent them receiving the care they need.

The new resource aims to put into practice the six commitments made by the Government to end variation in end of life care across the health system by 2020. It has been produced by the Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Health and Wellbeing Alliance (HW Alliance) A partnership arrangement funded by the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and Public Health England.

For example, it highlights how strengthening links between hospices and hostels can make a notable difference to homeless people living with a life-limiting condition.

Based on a range of approaches taken by different organisations working with the three groups - which successfully widened access to care- the new ‘Care committed to me’ resource identifies five principles of good care. They are:
  • Good communication which includes engaging with people in a way that is meaningful for the individual and so enables people to make informed decisions about their care
  • An approach founded on dignity and respect and investing in a relationship of trust
  • The provision of workforce training and support
  • Enabling partnership working at a strategic level
  • Recognising that people are all different, so inclusive, equitable care is not about treating everyone in the same way
  • The resource also highlights the need for better data about different end of life care needs in local communities- to support effective and more targeted commissioning of services.

It calls for more to be done at local level, including for the three groups identified in the report to be included in local Joint Strategic Needs Assessments - which look at the current and future health and care needs of local populations.

Alison Skelton and Lynda Ruddock from St Leonard’s said: “The opportunity to work in partnership with the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York has enabled us to develop and sustain initiatives in line with current research in relation to end of life care and homelessness, in turn, being able to put into practice gold standard care which has a solid research base.”

Dr Kate Flemming, Hospice trustee and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York said: “Our close collaboration with St Leonard’s Hospice ensures that the research and teaching in palliative and end of life care in the Department of Health Sciences is fully guided by, and relevant to, contemporary health care practice, with the ultimate beneficiaries being patients and carers.”

Training was offered by St Leonard’s Hospice to local hostel staff in skills such as recognising deterioration in a patient’s condition and initiating conversations about end of life, and this has been reciprocated with training from the hostel team on some of the issues that affect people experiencing homelessness and how services work to support them. Ripples from this work are now reaching across the city as GP interest has led to plans getting under way to develop a coordinated approach to care for people who are homeless in York.

The project began through research undertaken at the University of York87 informing education in end-of-life care for Changing Lives hostel staff which was delivered by St Leonard’s Hospice education team. The education programme had a positive impact on care, however, joint working across organisations highlighted that vulnerable individuals were falling through ‘gaps’ in end-of-life care provision. This was the catalyst to bring together both health professionals working with the homeless population of York and palliative care specialists to develop processes of identification of individuals nearing the end of life, guidelines for symptom management, advance care planning and palliative care education.'

Read the resource in more detail here.