Background The health of Gypsy and Traveller communities is significantly worse than the health of other minority ethnicities, experiencing premature mortality and greater risk of illness. The Leeds Community Health Needs Assessment in 2013 identified poor access to health services, especially within primary care. Recent evidence has highlighted that end of life care needs of Travellers and Gypsies must be recognised, understood, and supported by services both nationally and locally. In order to achieve this we needed to understand our current palliative care service provision and the barriers from both service users and professionals to achieving wider access to palliative services in this community
Methods A service evaluation was undertaken focussing on the care provided within an area served by Sue Ryder Wheatfields hospice. We conducted 4 focus groups with six service users and 17 professionals involved in palliative care. We analysed these using thematic analysis with two independent coders.
Findings We found several major themes. Service users identified access to their GP as a major barrier. Service users and healthcare professionals also identified discrimination and lack of trust in professionals. Healthcare professionals identified a lack of experience and education in caring for this group, but stated they were keen to develop this. Service users also identified education around what palliative care is as a major barrier to accessing services. Despite these themes both professionals and service users described their real life experience as positive.
Conclusion Although the experience of both service users and professionals in the context of palliative care in this community has been positive we have identified barriers to developing these services further. Flexible services are required to ensure holistic, and culturally sensitive care. This requires collaboration between services, with access to GPs being identified as a crucial area to start.
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