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End of life care: We must take our responsibility seriously in continuing to lead the way.

With the UK ranked as number one for end of life care in the world, our CEO contemplates the breadth of work required to keep us in the top spot - and the need for hospices to continue to inspire the very best palliative care delivery. 
Nurse-Margaret-in-ward
DSC_0634 (cropped)It's been a positive day for hospice care - which has been particularly brilliant given that it's Hospice Care Week. News organisations across the UK have been reporting on the Economist Intelligence unit's report, which placed the UK at the top of a list of 80 countries for end of life care. It's put a smile on my face, that's for sure, particularly as hospices are highlighted as a key player in the decision to rank us best in the world.  

Other promising elements from the report include the progression of some of the world's poorest countries, such as Mongolia, which ranks highly due to their investment in hospice facilities. I can only hope we see more of this across the globe.   

But we mustn't be complacent. This report does not grant permission for us to sit back and wait for everyone else to catch up.    

While we may be world-leaders, this reports falls in the shadow of a damning report into end-of-life care from the Health Ombudsmen earlier this year, which gave grim case studies and horror stories surrounding poorly delivered palliative care and made for difficult reading for everyone who works in the sector.   

There is still plenty of work to do - and we don't count ourselves out of that. It applies to us, hospices country-wide and in the National Health Service.    

Only yesterday we held the second of a new scheme offered to carers, a 'Stress Busting Day'. This was held out in the local community and gave people who care for someone under our care access to peer support and coping techniques, that will prove invaluable to them through their tough journey. This is one of many new innovations we have and will implement over the coming years.   

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Carers at our stress busting day.

We've been working on our five-year strategy, which looks in-depth at the challenges we face and creative ways to tackle them. The challenges are wide and varying, but revolve around the need to meet the ever-growing demand for exemplary palliative care.   

We need to reach out to our communities, so that they know what help and support we can provide and how they can access it. We need to improve technology, so that we have robust and future-proof systems to assist our clinical teams. We need to strengthen relationships with health and social care providers, ensuring joined up care for those in the system - and attract more people to our Education Centre where they can benefit from training from our expert lecturers. We need our fundraising team to generate more voluntary income every year, both to cover the dips in NHS funding but to ensure we can expand at the rate we need and wish to.  

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I repeat: there is still plenty of work to do. And that's what key, here. We may, as a country, be world leaders right now. But we must continue to lead by example; we must innovate and inspire others to continue improving how we care for people at end of life. That's as much the responsibility of hospices, and it's a responsibility we are taking very seriously.  
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