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End of life care: We have a responsibility to work together.

Our Director of Quality and Care responds to the health ombudsmen's criticism of end-of-life care in the NHS. 
Referrals meeting
This report is timely given all the activity around Dying Matters Week, as access to end-of-life care is being discussed widely.     

We at Saint Francis Hospice are committed to access support and delivery of quality end-of-life care for all. The issues we are aware of are that when we meet people it is often at the end of their journey when they have been through a variety of health pathways and processes. For some, this has been a well-managed process at a very difficult time in their lives. However, for others we are aware of a less helpful list of issues people face in relation to waits for diagnosis, unclear information given about their diagnosis, treatment, services and prognosis. Further people are confused as to what help they can access to manage the rest of their lives and the choices they have for their preferred place of care.     

We are also acutely aware that one of the criticisms of hospice care is that not all people can access it. We know this can be because professionals and people who may need our care do not understand the range of services that can be provided. We work hard reaching out to professionals and people in our communities to highlight our services, but there is still much work to be done.     

One of biggest challenges at the moment is funding. With 27% of our funding from NHS contracts we are very dependent on supporters and any grants to make up the rest. We fight hard to continue to provide all the services we do, as based on feedback we receive they are what people want and need. People want a choice of provision, either at the hospice or in the community.     

When someone is managing a long term condition or life limiting illness, all those within the health and social care economy have a responsibility to work together and provide integrated communication and care for individuals and those important to them. The current ad hoc nature of information and supply can be addressed if we all work pro-actively together and end-of-life care is given the focus and time required to get it right.    

There is often a comment that it will cost too much to get services right;  my thoughts are that it is actually costing money getting this wrong. That, on top of the detrimental effects on people who do not receive the care they should.     

Our vision is to be available to support those within our community at a time they need us, with the service they need to complete their life and with those important to them, in the way and place they wish.     

Tes Smith is one of an impressive list of authors who contributed to the book: Pathways Through Care at End of Life: A Guide to Person Centred Care, which includes good communication and assembly models. Yep, we're proud of our director!