Ten questions to ensure good end of life care

Hospice and Palliative Care

On Wednesday 20th March 2013, Fabian chaired a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hospice and Palliative Care. The occasion was held to launch a new campaign document; '10 questions to ensure good end of life care in your area.'

Introducing the meeting, Fabian set the context of the group's work reminding those present of the scandalous low level of care exposed at the Mid Staffordshire Hospital where old people were neglected with many dying prematurely, and the upheaval in Health Service organisation which will pass control of the budget to hundreds of local commissioning groups. Fabian called for end of life care to be the exemplary model to inspire all other National Health Service operations.

The key questions that should make us all think seriously about hospice and palliative care provision are as follows.

  1. Where are local people dying, and where are they being cared for before they die?
  2. What are people saying about the quality of care they and their loved ones have received locally?
  3. What local systems are in place to ensure that people who might be approaching the end of their lives have been identified and plans about their care can be coordinated?
  4. What services are available locally "at any time of day and night" to enable people to be cared for in the place that they want to be?
  5. What support is available locally for carers of people approaching the end of life, including into bereavement?
  6. What is being done to ensure that local services are genuinely available and accessible to everybody in the local community?
  7. What training in end of life care are local organisations giving their staff?
  8. Has end of life care been identified as a local priority and who is providing local leadership and accountability?
  9. What local activities are being undertaken to raise public awareness about death, dying and bereavement and build people's confidence in having discussions and making plans?
  10. What steps are being taken to involve local people and those with personal experience in the way services are shaped and evaluated?

The questions are particularly pertinent for all those who in any way determine, manage or campaign for quality provision in the community. The significance of each question is explained in a booklet published jointly by the National Council for Palliative Care and Marie Curie Cancer Care. To download a copy of this booklet - click here.

The week from the 13th - 20th May has been designated, 'Dying Matters Week' and will form a campaign for everyone who is concerned to do five things to help people live and die well. Details of how to get involved and what to do are available from the organisation, 'Dying Matters' and can be read by - clicking here.

At the end of the APPG meeting Fabian summarised the discussions saying, "we need to do all that we can to ensure that these reforms improve care for people at the end of life and their families. And we must all work together as people who are at the end of life who are frail need dignity, respect and compassion and services that are co-ordinated . It is not just a question of asking new commissioners to make end of life care a priority, we must be prepared to offer them our support, encouragement, expertise and evidence. We have the tools to do this, not least this excellent new guide with the 10 questions to ask that we launched today. This must be a collective effort by all of us."