As Britain’s ageing population grows older, with many of us increasingly facing the prospect of dying alone, Somerset-based St. Margaret’s Hospice has launched an initiative to help understand and tackle the mounting challenges facing the critical provision of end of life care.
The ‘Fit for Future’ campaign has brought together leading healthcare experts, carers, national charities, families, patient representatives, church leaders, academics, neighbouring hospices and the local authority, to assess the action that is needed now to support palliative care provision in the future. It comes at a time when the county and the UK is facing up to the dual challenge of funding cuts and increasing health and social care needs as we live longer.
The review is being chaired by Lord Ashdown, one of St. Margaret’s Vice Presidents. It will represent one of the largest community engagement programmes anywhere in the country and provide a blueprint for better and more efficient palliative care for Somerset and beyond.
Views are being sought via a series of community focus groups and social media platforms including a dedicated website, Facebook and Twitter.
Ann Lee, St. Margaret’s Chief Executive, said: “No idea is a bad idea. We want as many people as possible to have a voice on what end of life care should look like in the future. While you may not have been affected by a life-limiting illness during your lifetime, one in three people in Somerset – whether personally or through a family member or friend – will at some point need the support of St. Margaret’s Hospice.
“There are a number of ways you can give us your views – via the website, on social media or simply by emailing or writing to the team.
“The panel will be meeting monthly and as the ideas come in, they will be discussing them and assessing their viability. The consultation lasts for six months, until April, and then the panel will be making recommendations to the Board of Trustees at St. Margaret’s. We expect pilot projects to be in place late 2016 or early 2017 with new models of care rolled out by the end of 2017.”
Somerset is very much in the spotlight when it comes to future healthcare challenges as it has one of the biggest ageing populations in the UK. By 2033, most of the county is likely to have at least 25% of the population over 65 and it is projected that there will be as many people in their 80s as in their 20s (source ONS).
In the next 15 years, it is predicted that, without reform, around 40% of the population will die alone without adequate care and support.
To have your say, visit www.fit4future.org.uk, follow the campaign on Twitter @StMargaretsF4TF and like our ‘Fit for Future’ Facebook page. Alternatively, you can email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Fit for Future, St. Margaret’s Hospice, Heron Drive, Bishops Hull, Taunton TA1 5HA.