I have visited many hospices over the years. People ask me whether I feel sad or depressed when I go to a hospice and the answer is no, I feel quite the opposite.
Unfortunately, many people have the wrong idea about hospice care. They think that a hospice is only about dying and that it is the place you go when nothing more can be done. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hospices help people with life-limiting illnesses focus on living as fully as possible for as long as possible. They are welcoming, calm environments where staff and volunteers do their utmost to help make a patient as comfortable as possible and support their nearest and dearest through difficult times. They provide their services free of charge and raise millions of pounds to fund their existence.
Here are some facts and figures from Hospice UK:
- The hospice care sector supports at least 120,000 people with terminal and life-limiting conditions each year. This increases to around 360,000 people when their family members are included. Hospices have an important role in supporting people’s families, especially in providing bereavement support.
- Hospices care for people with a wide range of conditions including cancer, motor neurone disease, cardio-vascular diseases, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease. Hospices are also increasingly supporting people with multiple life-limiting conditions including dementia.
- Hospice care is available in a range of settings such as inpatient units as well in people’s own homes, where the majority of care is provided.
- On average adult hospices receive 32% of their funding from Government, with the remaining 68% coming from fundraising. However the level of statutory funding varies widely across the country.
- Charitable hospices collectively need to raise £1.9 million per day – amounting to more than £9,000 per hospice every day.
- More than 125,000 people give their time to volunteer in hospices each year.
Due to the UK’s rapidly ageing population the need for hospice care will only increase. Macmillan estimates that by 2020 nearly 144,000 people will die from cancer each year – an increase of 15,000 when compared to 2010.
This presents enormous challenges for the hospice movement. Hospices will have to adapt and change the way they work to ensure they are fit for the future. Many are already responding to these challenges and I will follow with interest future developments in the sector.
I will continue to promote and support the work of hospices and urge everyone to do the same - because you never know when someone you love might need a helping hand.
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