Quality Health, the UK’s largest provider of patient and employee surveys and related consultancy to the NHS in England, has released a report revealing the lack of public understanding about fundamental health care provision within north Derbyshire.
The report published this year was commissioned by Ashgate Hospicecare, specialists in palliative care, both in the hospice and community settings across the region, and evaluated 5,725 responses from households across the catchment.
Hayley Wardle, Director of Quality and Patient Care from Ashgate Hospicecare, commenting on the survey results said: “The Quality Health Report has indicated a lack of knowledge about the availability and range of hospice services, as well as limited understanding as to how to access hospice care in north Derbyshire. While over 90% of respondents had heard of Ashgate Hospicecare, less than two thirds associated the hospice with the provision of day care and or care in people’s homes.
“As a result we want to shine a light on the full extent of hospice services and how access to information about referrals, and hospice care itself, needs to be improved. We have recognised over recent years that admission to a hospice bed is not the only, or always most suitable option for those with a terminal illness. There is in fact an increasing need, not least with the political and social backdrop, for hospice care in people’s own homes.”
Dying Matters, a broad, national coalition which aims to change public knowledge, reports that around 70% of people want to die at home, yet more than half of the 450,000 people who die each year in England do so in hospital. With death rates predicted to rise to around 586,00 by 2030 there will be an inevitable pressure on care homes and home deaths.
The Quality Health report emphasised that less than half of respondents (47%) said that information about accessing services from Ashgate Hospicecare was easily accessible; and 48% said they would not know who to contact in order to access services. In addition, over 60% responded saying that they wanted information about Ashgate Hospicecare at the point of diagnosis.
Patrick McLoughlin, MP for Derbyshire Dales also commenting on the Quality Health report, said: “This report has highlighted the need to increase awareness of the options available for those that need; and indeed, to bolster fundraising for the organisations which work to provide alternative solutions and support in terms of patient care. Good communication with patients and carers, and advance care planning is ever more critical – and something that we should work together in providing for all.”
Toby Perkins, MP for Chesterfield, said: “This report highlights the need to raise awareness of the breadth of services available at our local hospice. Improving awareness of these services will ensure patients, families and practitioners have greater choices when they need them.”
Dr Pauline Love, Bakewell GP and End of Life Care Lead for North Derbyshire, responded to the results, commenting: “We know that patients are four times more likely to want to talk to their GP about planning for their end of life care than to a solicitor; and 10 times more likely than to a nurse. (According to information from Dying Matters).
“GPs are the gate keepers to health services in England. If you do not plan community support for a dying patient they will end up in crisis, using emergency services. As a profession we need to ensure we are equipped to guide on more efficient and holistic care by reducing admission, meeting the requirements of the Quality Outcomes Framework and increasingly working and helping to promote the invaluable work our providers of End of Life Care do.”
Looking across the UK as a whole the Final Report of the Palliative Care Funding Review 2011 highlights that only one in four people who would benefit from hospicecare and home care are currently receiving it.
Hayley Wardle from Ashgate Hospicecare continues: “We know that hundreds across the region and indeed the UK are missing the expert, compassionate support they need to gain hospice and home care. We need to work together, now more than ever, to raise awareness and indeed the funding for this to happen.
“We are very proud that Ashgate Hospicecare services are free to patients, something that the majority of people surveyed recently are still not aware of. However, as a result, we have to rely heavily on fundraising to help ensure that every family receives the care they need and deserve.”
Later this year Ashgate Hospicecare plans to launch a ‘Hospice at Home’ to further raise awareness of services and help the fundraising requirements of the charity.
For further information and / or to pledge your support please visit www.ashgatehospicecare.org.uk