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Meeting local and national priorities for adults and children with terminal and life-shortening conditions in Scotland

Author: Eilidh Macdonald, Policy and Advocacy Manager Scotland, Hospice UK
26 January 2018

Eilidh Macdonald, Policy and Advocacy Manager Scotland at Hospice UK shares details of a new briefing produced by the charity highlighting steps that Scotland's Integration Authorities can take to enable more children and adults with terminal and life-shortening conditions to access palliative and end of life care.

Scotland’s Integration Authorities can realise their strategic ambitions and better support people by making the identification of children and adults with palliative and end of life care needs a planning priority.

Too many people miss out on the right care at the end of life. It is estimated that one in four adults don’t access the care they need and Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS) estimates it only sees a third of babies, children and young people living with a life shortening condition in Scotland. While there has been some important research into who is missing out and why, our understanding is still very limited.

Local planning has a critical role to play in changing this picture. By ensuring local strategies for delivering services understand need, Scotland 31 Integration Authorities can transform thousands of lives, and meet key integration aims such as widening access to end of life care and reducing unplanned hospital admissions.

Hospice UK has produced a new briefing for Integration Authorities focusing on how prioritising people living with terminal and life shortening conditions can deliver local and national ambitions for better care and better planned spending.

In our briefing, we set out five key steps Integration Authorities can take, the first of which focuses on identification of need. Local strategic needs assessments should identify the children and adults who could benefit from end of life care as well as map service provision and gaps. When that is known, care can be built around people and progress measured.  This work will also aid the identification of those caring for someone with a terminal or life shortening condition, ensuring everyone can benefit from Scotland’s new carer’s support legislation coming into force in April.

Understanding who needs care now, and anticipating who will need care in the future means fewer people will miss out on palliative and end of life care. It is often said, and always true, that we have one chance to get end of life care right for those who need it and the people who love them. Understanding existing needs and building care for the future are urgent and important tasks. Without the right health and social care response now, the numbers of people missing out can only increase as more people die, with ever more complex health needs.

The Scottish Government has set a goal that by 2021 everyone who needs palliative and end of life care will be able to access it.

The way Integration Authorities approach planning for palliative and end of life care for babies, children, young people and adults will determine the experiences of thousands of Scots and whether universal access to such care can be a reality. 

Knowing who needs care and mapping access to services are essential steps on that journey.

You can read Hospice UK's briefing here

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