Introduction Whilst a growing number of hospices are proactively engaging in the public health agenda, questions remain about whether this is an approach that hospices can adopt successfully. (Sallnow et al . 2014). The experience of St Christopher’s in the development of its social hub (The Anniversary Centre) offers insights into the challenges and how these are best addressed.
Background The Anniversary Centre was established to provide a more open and flexible approach to end of life care and to challenge and change public attitudes towards death and dying. It sought, also, to contest an existing culture of care, shifting from professional management of problems to one in which people take a lead in their own care and wellbeing.
Methods A review of the progress of the Centre in achieving these aims has been undertaken five years after its establishment. Questions focus on:
The degree to which the centre has engaged more of the local communities
How much its users are able to determine their own priorities, care and wellbeing through attendance at the centre
What evidence of a public health approach exists in the support it provides.
Results The Centre offers a new and alternative way of supporting people living with a life threatening condition. Although successes have been achieved, organisational and historical cultural barriers continue to limit progress.
Conclusion Hospice culture can prohibit public health approaches to palliative care. However, related innovation is possible when clear values and stories are shared, champions are identified and professional assumptions are challenged.
Sallnow L, Paul S. Understanding community engagement in end-of-life care: developing conceptual clarity. Crit Public Health 2015;25(2):231–8.
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