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Charities launch new report into free social care at the end of life

25 June 2014

A new report launched today, examines the current state of end of life services in England and provides innovative examples of accessing non-means tested social care.

'How could free social care at the end of life work in practice?', written by OPM and commissioned by Macmillan Cancer Support, the Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association and Sue Ryder, reveals that in some areas commissioners have been able to find unique ways of integrating the health and social care systems to improve end of life care.

STARS Care Liverpool is one of two case study service models included in the report (see box-out.)

Although the Continuing Healthcare Fast Track system is in place across the country, there has been concern about the gap between official guidance on its implementation and how it operates in practice.

Social care can provide crucial practical support to people at the end of life, as well as respite for carers, to allow people to remain in their own homes if they so wish.

The coalition, which includes Macmillan Cancer Support, Sue Ryder, MND Association, Help the Hospices, The National Council for Palliative Care and Marie Curie Cancer Care, has been working together to campaign for free social care at the end of life to support people to die in the place of their choosing.

The charities are calling on the Government to make non-means tested social care available to everyone at the end of life are urging health and social care commissioners to adopt the recommendations in the report, which include:

  • Improving access to high quality free social care services for people at the end of life.
  • Collaborating with local partners to deliver integrated health and social care services.
  • Monitoring needs and existing services more closely to inform the development of innovative new services.

Mike Hobday, Director of Policy and Research at Macmillan Cancer Support, said:

“This report shows that access to free social care at the end of life, which gives people a real say in where they are cared for, is only available in small pockets across the country. We know the majority of cancer patients who are dying in hospital, at great expense to the NHS, want to be able to die in the comfort of their own home surrounded by their loved ones.

“We want to see more examples of the innovative services highlighted in the report and universal access to free social care at the end of life.”

Mike Smeeton, Director of Health and Social Care at Sue Ryder, added:

“Alongside local innovation around end of life care there is an urgent need to improve the way in which continuing health care funding is accessed and how the care is delivered. It is disappointing to see such diversion across the country from the Government’s own guidance.

“When it works well, we know that Continuing Health Care can be transformational in ensuring that people access appropriate and adequate care when they are dying, which affects not only them but also their families and carers.”

The National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC) stated on their website: “As a member of the coalition campaigning for free social care at the end life, NCPC supports the report and its recommendations.”

Access the full report on the OPM website.

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