Tuesday, 5 August 2014
Hospices and health.
Hospices are a vital and dynamic part of our health system, but run by the third sector. They should be used more and better funded by the NHS. I have always felt that end of life care demonstrates how dis empowering the health service can be. Most people at the end of their life want real choice, where they have that chance, to choose whether to die at home or in the supportive environment of a hospice and yet the majority of people die in a hospital bed.
I have a great membership amongst CEOs of hospices and yesterday spent a fascinating day at the St Joseph's Hospice in Hackney. This is one of the very first hospices in the country, set up over 100 years ago, by Roman Catholic nuns working in a deprived part of London serving many of the Irish Roman Catholic community. Today the hospice is more secular and has a large Muslim population, as you would expect in Hackney, though there are still sisters serving as trustees.
It's slap bang in the middle of the Hackney community, on Mare St, “the riots stopped just up the road" I was told. I was meeting with Michael Kerin, long time CEO of the Hospice and active ACEVO member. It’s an amazing set of buildings- they pack much into a small plot of land and the gardens are especially peaceful (and have been award winning). Michael told me Prince Edward was a visitor recently to see the gardens as part of the London garden scheme.
And I ought to mention my favourite hospice which is Helen and Douglas House in Oxford, they recently released a fun promotional music video by Out of the Blue which you can watch here: http://youtu.be/bRWVMPnByzo
A great deal of thought and care go into the planning and running of a hospice where the emphasis is on high quality medical care but especially the emotional and loving care people want at their end . I know from personal experience how the final viewing of a departed loved relative can be an experience marred by the surroundings. The hospice mortuary at St Joseph's was a peaceful spot and has much to show the rest of the health service on how to do these difficult things.
And from Hospices to personal budgets; an insightful informal meeting with a number of members and Simon Stevens of NHS England and colleagues. The whole area of choice for us as citizens and as patients in our health and well being service is strictly limited in our interactions with NHS or social care. Personal budgets has been an important development over the last decade but as yet remains an area limited to a small group, whereas there must be more scope for expansion to tackle long term conditions. And continuing the health theme I went off for lunch with Goldman Sachs to talk about cancer research; a subject of both great personal and ACEVO interest.