Know your hospices! Survey reveals low awareness of palliative care in county

Rennie Grove Hospice Care
Rennie Grove Hospice Care

A Hertfordshire survey has shown little awareness of the end-of-life care services offered in the county.

Rennie Grove Hospice Care is one of five hospice charities in the area which commissioned the survey, with research carried out by Fortune West on 794 members of the general public.

Timed to coincide with national Hospice Care Week – which runs until Sunday – the survey results showed that 41% of respondents had unprompted awareness of any of the six palliative organisations in the county, a figure that rose to 75% when prompted. E

But each of the individual hospices could be named by no more than one in ten people spontaneously, and recognised by no more than a quarter after prompting.

A spokesman for Rennie Grove said: “This relatively low awareness of the hospices delivering care throughout Herts is reflective of the national awareness picture.

“In 2013 the Help the Hospices Commission into the Future of Hospice Care found that many people, even those in senior public service roles, had relatively little awareness of what hospices offer in terms of care or who is eligible to use their services.

“This Hertfordshire survey also shows that 76% of people asked did not know of anyone who has used a hospice. However with around 120,000 of the 500,000 people who die in the UK each year being cared for by hospices, it is likely that some of these respondents may simply have been unaware of the care their friends or relatives had been receiving, or decided not to disclose this potentially sensitive information.”

Six in ten of the Herts survey respondents knew that hospices provided palliative or end-of-life care, although they were not aware of the detail of the full range of care services offered.

This year’s Hospice Care Week theme is ‘hospice care, everywhere’ – designed to plug the awareness gap and draw attention to the fact that the majority of modern hospice care is actually delivered outside of hospice buildings, much of it in patients’ homes.

Around half who answered the survey were aware that hospices are funded through charitable funds and a similar proportion cited individual donations, but only a minority were aware of any state funding from national government or the NHS.

Further research is still being conducted, which will allow hospice organisations to consider how to improve their marketing of end-of-life services for patients in Herts – a move which could involve further joint working.

The Rennie Grove spokesman saidL “The number of people aged 85 and over in the UK is expected to double in the next 20 years as more people live for longer with chronic and often complex health conditions and the demand for hospice care is expected to rise steeply as a result.

“Making sure that patients and families know and understand the services available to them is an important part of the preparations that hospice organisations across Herts are currently putting in place to meet this demand.

The collaborative survey was made possible by the support of the Herts-based Graham Rowlandson Foundation.