Priorities for the new Palliative and End of Life Care Strategy
With Marie Curie Scotland
In Scotland in 2020-21, 62,000 people died. Around 90% of people had a palliative care need. By 2040, 10,000 more people will be dying each year with a palliative care need, and two-thirds of all deaths are expected to take place in community settings: in people’s homes, care homes and hospices.
Covid-19 has shown the distressing impact dying, death, and bereavement can have on anyone at any time and the importance of access to palliative care when it’s needed most. But long-standing challenges with health and social care integration, sustainable funding for palliative care in community settings and workforce recruitment and retention have been laid bare during the pandemic.
The number of people dying at home during Covid-19 has significantly increased and sustained even when Covid waves dropped. Still, in many cases, it is unknown what access or palliative care support terminally ill people, their families and carers received due to unprecedented pressures on health and social care workforces.
In 2016, the Scottish Government published its five-year Strategic Framework for Action on Palliative and End of Life Care, outlining how it would support improvements. At the heart of the framework was the vision that by 2021, everyone in Scotland who needed palliative care would have access to it.
While some progress has been made, gaps remain, particularly around the funding and resourcing of palliative care in community settings. This means many terminally ill people, their families and carers continue to be at risk of dying without the physical, emotional, spiritual and financial support they need for an end-of-life experience which reflects what is most important to them.
Now, with the government due to deliver a new palliative care strategy later this year, this breakfast briefing was a timely opportunity to reflect on the implementation and success of the 2016 – 2021 framework and discuss what needs to be incorporated in the forthcoming palliative care strategy.
You can find out more about Marie Curie and the work they do in Scotland here.